A life-threatening disease, COVID-19 has spread across the globe and caused grave concern in people . The members of treatment teams, especially nurses, who are in direct contact with patients infected with the corona virus , are subject to considerable tension and stress . The psychological tension which nurses have been subject to in the past few months has influenced their resilience, occupational burnout, and even family responsibilities, including parenting. In Iran, one of the 10 countries most affected by COVID-19, treatment teams and nurses have been working long shifts in very stressful conditions away from their families for long periods. It is obvious that sustained stress at work will adversely affect their patience and resilience and can result in fatigue and depression, which will, in turn, prevent them from effectively performing their other duties, especially their role as parents [27, 28]. Though a few studies have addressed the work stress, knowledge, and awareness of nurses who care for COVID-19 patients, there are not any studies of resilience, occupational burnout, or parenting stress in this group of caregivers. Due to lack of research in this area, the researchers had to use articles which measure resilience, occupational burnout, or parenting stress in nurses who care for patients with other specific diseases. In the present study, the occupational burnout means score of the nurses was found to be 32.33 ± 2.57, which indicates high burnout. Occupational burnout in nurses is a hot topic in nursing associations: studies show that the physical and psychological pressures of caring for patients lead to occupational burnout in the long run and, thus, nurses’ length of service, work shifts, and salary must be redefined according to the type of patients they care for and the units where they work . However, most of these studies report the occupational burnout of nurses with 5 years’ or more work experience to be average, which is not consistent with the findings if the present study [29–31]. This discrepancy can be attributed to the sudden emergence of COVID-19 which is highly infectious and has significantly increased nurses’ workload and caused them to have to work longer shifts and stay away from their families in the past few months. The results of the present study show a statistically significant difference between the married and single participants in terms of their occupational burnout scores (p < 0.033). This difference may be due to the fact that, in addition to stress in the workplace, married nurses, especially those with children, are subject to greater psychological tension (p < 0.031) as a result of disruption in their performance of their duties as spouses and parents [29, 32–34]. The results of the study also show that contractual nurses (p < 0.039) and female nurses (p < 0.041) suffer from greater occupational burnout. Job insecurity, lower salaries, and the lower physical-psychological resilience of female nurses can account for the statistically significant difference between the occupational burnout scores of contractual and permanent nurses and male and female nurses [29, 34]. Similarly, the study of Salahian et al shows that nurses’ employment status and gender have an impact on their occupational burnout . In the present study, the resilience means score of the nurses was found to be 32.33 ± 2.57, which is considered low [35, 36]. In contrast, other studies report average to high levels of resilience for nurses, even for those who provide care to critically or terminally ill patients. The discrepancy can be attributed to lack of a definite treatment for COVID-19 and the high speed and rate of the infection which have subjected nurses to severe physical and psychological tension with extremely adverse effects on their resilience [35–37]. The results of the present study show a significant inverse relationship between the participants’ occupational burnout and resilience, which finding is consistent with the results of other studies. The parenting stress means score of 298 of the participants was found to be 17.53 ± 1.58. There are studies on parenting stress in working mothers or parents with a chronically ill child [38, 39]; however, there has not been much research into parenting stress in nurses. This lack of research may be due to the fact that nurses who work in rotating shifts can spend at least a few hours a day with their children and attend to their upbringing. But in the COVID-19 crisis, many nurses have to work longer hours caring for the infected and, due to the high infectiousness of the disease, would rather reside in hospitals temporarily or have their relatives take away their children to their own homes for the safety of their children. Stress in the workplace, fear of transmitting the infection to their children, having to stay away from their children, and inability to monitor their children’s upbringing have subjected nurses with children to extra psychological tension and, consequently, increased occupational burnout in them. In conclusion, the results of the study show that nurses who provide care to COVID-19 patients and have had to work more shifts in recent months are affected by higher levels of occupational burnout, have less resilience, and are experiencing more tension in their relationship with their children than before the emergence of the pandemic. In view of the persistence of the COVID-19 crisis in Iran and the world in coming months, it is mandatory that health administrators take effective measures to reduce nurses’ occupational burnout and enhance their physical and psychological well-being.
One of the major limitations of the present study was the relatively low return rate of the questionnaires via e-mail which could have been due to the hectic work schedules of nurses in the crisis. Moreover, the variables addressed in the present study were measured over a 6-month period—it is suggested that future studies assess occupational burnout, resilience, and parenting stress in nurses who care for COVID-19 patients in coming months and years in other societies and larger samples in order to acquire a more accurate understanding of nurses’ occupational burnout in in this crisis. Health administrators and policy-makers can use these findings to develop more comprehensive plans for the current and future crises.