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The impact of COVID-19 on nurse alcohol consumption: A qualitative exploration
journal contributionposted on 2023-02-09, 23:30 authored by Adam SearbyAdam Searby, D Burr, B Redley
Aims and objectives: To explore the long-term impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on nurse alcohol consumption. Background: The COVID-19 pandemic has caused immense disruption to healthcare services worldwide, and nurses have not been immune, experiencing burnout, declining mental health and ultimately, attrition from the profession. Increases in alcohol consumption have been reported across subsections of society, including those with pre-existing mental ill health and experiencing high stress, and exploring this phenomenon in nurses is essential for workforce well-being and sustainability. Design: Qualitative descriptive study design. Methods: Secondary analysis of individual, semi-structured interviews with nurses (N = 42) from diverse settings across Australia, including community, primary and hospital settings, conducted in July and August 2021. Data were analysed using structural coding and reported in accordance with the CORE-Q guidelines. Findings: Two key themes were found after analysis of the data: (1) factors influencing alcohol consumption (subthemes: workplace factors and external factors), and (2) the pandemic's influence on alcohol consumption (subthemes: increased consumption, moderation of consumption and alcohol as a reward). Conclusions: Several participants described increased alcohol consumption because of the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly due to the stress of working in an environment where resources were scarce. Workplace factors such as overtime, missed breaks and heightened workload were all described as driving stress, and in turn increased alcohol consumption. Relevance to clinical practice: Increased alcohol consumption has been associated with burnout, absenteeism and intention to leave. The nursing profession is currently undergoing significant continuing stress providing care and management to patients with the SARS-CoV-2 virus, and increased alcohol consumption is a significant threat to personal and workforce well-being, workforce sustainability and quality nursing care.