Easing Patient Anxiety About COVID-19

Written by Rose Torrento on Thursday, March 24, 2022 Posted in Travel Nurse Tips

bedside manner

No single set of symptoms affects everyone with COVID-19. Some develop well-known symptoms, some display rarer effects, and some remain asymptomatic, but uncertainty is common to every diagnosis. Will I develop symptom X? Is my body more prone to ailment Y?

A COVID-19 diagnosis can also cause significant anxiety, which may compromise patient well-being and recovery. As nurses administer care for COVID-19 patients, they can also provide them with information to alleviate anxiety.

Anxiety takes a toll

Unknowns about COVID-19 abound. Researchers keep discovering new variants, each with its own set of symptoms. Media coverage leaves people with more questions than answers. How effective are the vaccines? When will the pandemic end?

Uncertainty breeds anxiety, and for COVID-19 patients, stress and anxiety make physical symptoms worse. Patients don’t know what’s going to happen to them, and the resulting fear can lead to a dimmer prognosis.

patient anxiety

Tips for easing patient anxiety

To preserve patient health, travel nurses can help dispel the anxiety surrounding a COVID-19 diagnosis. Consider these tips:

  1. Explain how the virus works. COVID-19 affects everyone differently. Discuss the patient’s medical history and how their body is reacting to the virus. Talking about what to expect limits feelings of uncertainty.
  2. Walk them through procedures. As you care for patients, explain what you’re doing and why. Patients feel more at ease when they’re kept in the loop.
  3. Speak in simple terms. Complex medical jargon will only make patients more anxious. Communicate information in a clear, direct way to help them understand their condition.
  4. Make a treatment plan. Let them know your team can help. After explaining their diagnosis, review available treatment options. This sets up realistic expectations and reassures patients that there’s a plan of action.
  5. Let them ask questions. Open the floor to questions and provide answers wherever you can. Learning how the virus works keeps patients informed and reduces anxiety.
  6. Ask how you can help. As a nurse, you want to do everything in your power to make patients comfortable. Offer to help, whether it’s by guiding a patient through deep breathing exercises or connecting them with a social worker.
patient honesty

Be honest

Above all, be transparent with patients about their condition and prognosis. Choose your words carefully and be mindful of how a patient might receive them. Trying to shield them from information or obscuring the facts could leave them with even more questions and heighten their anxiety. Lead with the facts and do your best to empathize with their condition and their feelings as you help them through it.

Never underestimate an anxious mind’s ability to make things worse. Helping patients cope with worry is part of a nurse’s job. Take care of your own mental health as well. If you’re facing anxiety in an uncertain pandemic environment, reach out to your Health Providers Choice recruiter today for the mental health resources you need to manage your own anxieties, so you can help patients overcome theirs. Contact us online or call us today at 888-299-9800 for more information.

About the Author

Rose Torrento

Rosemarie Torrento has worked in health care for more than 26 years, beginning as a registered nurse in 1988. Early in her nursing career, Torrento worked as a freelance contract nurse before accepting a position in nursing administration. During her 17-year tenure in that role, she oversaw nursing employment and travel nurse contracting at a Level 1 Trauma Hospital in Michigan. Understanding the challenges travel nurses faced, Torrento founded Health Providers Choice Inc. (HPC) in 2003. Through Torrento’s extensive experience and her role as President and CEO, HPC provides travel placement of registered nurses and allied health professionals to hospital systems nationally.