Negative effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on nurses can be buffered by a sense of humor and appreciation

Marek Bartzik*, Fabienne Aust, Corinna Peifer

*Corresponding author for this work


Background: The first analyses of the various consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic show that the risk to nurses’ psychological well-being is particularly high. As the pandemic and the demands imposed on nurses are not yet fully understood, there is a need to seek buffering factors to protect nurses’ psychological health. In line with the earliest evidence, we hypothesize pandemic-related increases in perceived stress and decreases in the frequency of flow experiences, likewise in satisfaction with work, life, work performance, and well-being. As protective factors while dealing with pandemic-related stress, we suggest an individual’s sense of humor and perceived appreciation. Methods: In June/July 2020 – during the first lockdown in Germany – participants completed an online-survey in which they were asked to rate their situation before the pandemic (retrospectively) and during the pandemic. Our sample consisted of 174 registered nurses (161 females, 13 males, Mage = 40.52), of whom 85 worked as public health nurses and 89 as geriatric nurses. Results: During the pandemic, nurses felt more stressed, had fewer flow experiences, and were less satisfied with their work, life, work-performance, and well-being than before the pandemic. In addition, nurses felt more appreciation from society but less from their patients. Sense of humor and the perceived appreciation of society and patients were confirmed as buffers of negative pandemic-related effects. Conclusion: Our study contributes to the so far scarce knowledge on nurses’ pandemic-related stress and well-being in combination with their resources. Moreover, we were able to identify sense of humor and appreciation as protective factors.

Original languageEnglish
Article number257
JournalBMC Nursing
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 12.2021

Coronavirus related work

  • Research on SARS-CoV-2 / COVID-19


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