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Publication Date



2021 prov rn ca; 2021 prov rn poster; california; tarzana; plcmmc; covid-19; 2019-nCoV




Background: Registered Nurses (RNs) working 12-hour shifts are regularly exposed to high stress situations which has intensified during the COVID-19 pandemic. Chronic stress exposure may lead to changes in health habits and impact sleep, exercise or diet, augmenting risk for adverse health outcomes and taking a negative emotional toll. While nursing staff educate patients on reducing stress and engaging in health promotion behaviors, there is little research on perceived stress and relationships to COVID-related changes in sleep, diet, exercise, and mood of nurses working full-time, 12-hour shifts during the pandemic.

Purpose: The purpose of this pilot study was to gain preliminary insight on perceived impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on exercise, sleep, diet, mood, and stress in 12-hour shift RNs.

Methods/Approach: This observational descriptive study was composed of 12-hour shift RNs in the Western United States. This is an ongoing pilot study with the end goal of 60 participants. RNs completed surveys providing self-reported information on demographics, stress, and emotional and behavioral changes perceived in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic. Stress was measured with the valid and reliable Perceived Stress Scale short form, and author-created Likert scale questions evaluated whether diet quality, sleep quantity, sleep quality, exercise, stress, sadness, or anxiety worsened, remained unchanged, or improved since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Data were analyzed using descriptive and frequency statistics as well as independent samples t-tests in SPSS version 26.

Results: At the time of preliminary analysis, 40 participants provided data on the variables of interest. Of these participants, there were no observed significant differences among self-reported stress levels when comparing: shift worked (night versus day); COVID-related exercise, sleep, anxiety, or stress changes; age; or gender. One significant preliminary finding was that RNs who reported worsening dietary habits related to COVID tended to have increased stress levels (p=0.005). Another finding was that higher levels of stress were reported among nurses with greater-perceived personal sadness related to the COVID pandemic (p=0.003).

Conclusion: RNs are called to help others yet may be at risk for high stress and poor health outcomes, especially in the context of working during the COVID pandemic. These preliminary data suggest trends in relationships between stress and self-reported COVID-related changes to dietary habits as well as personal sadness among RNs.

Implication to Practice: Nurses are front-line caregivers and optimal physical and emotional health is critical to delivering effective patient care. While this small pilot study is ongoing and acknowledges that these are preliminary findings, it is suggested that working full time, 12-hour shifts in the hospital setting during the pandemic may have an impact on stress of RNs which could negatively influence well-being.Future studies may benefit from more directly exploring relationships between diet, mood, and stress levels over time in this population.



Conference / Event Name

2021 Providence RN Conference


Virtual Conference

The effect of COVID-related changes in diet, exercise, sleep patterns, and mood on stress levels of RNs who work 12-hour shifts during the pandemic

Included in

Nursing Commons