Journal of Advanced Nursing
School of Medical and Health Sciences / School of Nursing and Midwifery
Aims: To review and synthesize available evidence exploring the impact of pandemics on direct healthcare providers' workloads in the acute care setting. Design: Scoping review. Data Sources: A review of English research articles published up to August 2022 that examined the impact of pandemics on healthcare providers’ workloads was undertaken. Studies were identified by searching four electronic databases: Medline (EBSCO), CINAHL (EBSCO), Web of Science and PsychInfo (EBSCO). Fifty-five studies met the inclusion criteria. Review Methods: The review followed the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-analyses Scoping Review checklist. Results: Healthcare workers experience an increase in workload pressures during a pandemic. This included patients requiring more care, undertaking non-normal work activities, increase in work content including changes to documentation, increase in demand and skills required, an increase in overtime and hours of work per week and higher patient-to-nurse ratios. The review also highlighted changes to the work environment and worsened work environments, including staffing shortages. Conclusion: Focused efforts from health organizations to prioritize supportive conditions, policies focused on improved work environments, staffing adequacy and fair and reasonable workloads will enhance retention of the current workforce and future planning for pandemics. Impact: Understanding workload challenges faced by frontline health professionals during the pandemic can improve planning, including policies and procedures, and resource allocation for future pandemic or emergency situations. In addition, extended periods of high workloads can impact staff retention. As many countries return to life after COVID-19, it is important that healthcare organizations examine staff pressures and identify ways to support staff moving forward. This will be vital for the future sustainability of the workforce. Patient or Public Contribution: No patient or public contribution.
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