Contributors to fatigue among nurses working in critical care units: A qualitative study

Reyhaneh Abbaszadeh, Fazlollah Ahmadi, Mitra Khoobi, Anoshirvan Kazemnejad, Mojtaba Vaismoradi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


BACKGROUND: Fatigue is a growing concern among nurses who provide care to unstable and critically ill patients in critical care wards. It has various negative consequences for both nurses and patients.

AIM: To explore and describe contributors to fatigue among nurses working in critical care units.

STUDY DESIGN: A qualitative content analysis.

RESULTS: Participants were 21 nurses chosen using purposeful sampling. They were working in different critical care units at different hospitals in nine urban areas of Iran. Semi-structured interviews were used to collect data, and conventional content analysis was used to develop categories and subcategories. The analysis of data on the nurses' perspectives and experiences led to developing nine categories as contributors to fatigue: 'compassion fatigue', 'extensive network of interactions', 'sound and alarm fatigue', 'psychological tensions', 'managerial and organizational tensions', 'lack of motivation and incentives', 'individual characteristics of nurses', 'physical and mental pressure', and requirements of special care and situational complexity'.

CONCLUSIONS: Understanding the factors that influence the experience of fatigue among nurses working in critical care units is essential for maintaining a reliable and high-quality health care environment within health care facilities.

RELEVANCE TO CLINICAL PRACTICE: The experience of fatigue by critical care nurses can increase the possibility of practice errors, reduce patient safety and quality of care, and enhance staff burnout and turnover. Proactive policies should be formulated to assess nurses' fatigue levels and implement strategies for effective fatigue management. This approach aims to enhance both patient safety and job satisfaction in the workplace.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages11
JournalNursing in Critical Care
Early online date17 May 2024
Publication statusPublished - 17 May 2024


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