Introduction: The spread of COVID-19 on a large scale caused many concerns affecting the society with results of many deaths worldwide. Accordingly, many healthcare providers due to being on the front line of fighting against this disease lost their lives. The aim of this study was to explore the changes in nurses’ behavior and their practice while taking care of COVID-19 patients.
Methods: The present study was conducted using a qualitative design with a conventional content analysis approach in 2020-2021. The participants were 14 nurses who took care of COVID-19 patients in the infectious disease wards of a teaching hospital of Kerman University of Medical Sciences. Data were collected through interviews. Data collection continued until data saturation. The collected data were analyzed based on the steps proposed by Graham and Landman. Participants' statements, after recording and transcribing, were categorized into semantic units. Data were analyzed by using MAXQDA software version 10.
Results: The majority of nurses reported significant behavioral changes that were categorized into five main themes including 1) Intensification of protective measures and increasing concentration 2) Emergence of mental and psychological symptoms 3) Increasing the sense of responsibility towards the family 4) Recourse to prayer and increased religious rituals, and 5) Increasing empathy with patients Conclusion: The most important behavioral changes of nurses as a result of the COVID-19 crisis were the intensification of personal protective measures, the appearance of mental and emotional symptoms, an increase in the sense of responsibility towards the family, resorting to prayer and religious rituals, and increasing empathy with patients. Material and spiritual incentives and providing support to personnel to increase their motivation and work productivity should be taken into consideration by officials during epidemics. Also, actions such as free psychological counseling are suggested to calm the personnel.