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Addressing moral distress among nurses after the COVID-19 emergency

The COVID-19 emergency response meant many nurses were rapidly deployed to unfamiliar, rapidly developing high intensity critical care environments while nurses working in other settings faced new demands to protect people from infection.

This unprecedented emergency situation and the constant invisible threat of coronavirus and concerns about their own safety placed extreme pressures on the already depleted nursing workforce. The situation was compounded by higher than usual staff shortages because of nurses and/or their families being directly affected by or at heightened risk of the virus themselves.

International studies have reported the considerable psychological toll faced by nurses during the pandemic. As yet we know little about nurses's moral distress throughout COVID-19 and interventions targeting moral distress are scarce.

Understanding moral distress in the context of COVID-19 is critical to developing interventions to support Registered Nurses’ health and well being during and beyond the current pandemic.

The main anticipated outcome from this study will be knowledge about how a policy response to a highly contagious viral pandemic and connected legislative and regulatory changes impact on the mental health, wellbeing and retention of Registered Nurses.


This project is funded by The Burdett Trust.

Lead researcher

Dr Tessa Watts

Dr Tessa Watts

Senior Lecturer: Adult Nursing

+44(0)29 225 10963

Research theme

Nurse and patient holding hands

Optimising well-being and the management of long-term conditions

We are working to optimise well-being in health and illness of people affected by long-term and life limiting conditions in Wales and beyond.