This paper examines the daily practices of caring for COVID-19 patients in Wuhan, China, in early 2020 and the challenges that nurses faced. The paper shows that the affective contagion, especially among patients, introduced unexpected challenges for nurses in caring for COVID-19-infected patients. Nurses had to contend with the challenges of treating both physical and psychological problems in patients simultaneously. As a result, it was necessary for nurses to adapt to the different rhythm of COVID-19 wards to address these challenges and do so through taking on a range of general and specific nursing tasks and playing a diverse range of roles on the wards, from garbage collector to “psychological counselor.” Thus, the paper brings attention to the experiences and demands of providing nursing care in an emergency pandemic context, in particular the necessity of responding to both the physical and the psychological needs of patients. These insights could better prepare health services in China and elsewhere in the world for responding effectively to potential future pandemics.


Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/

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Wen, M., Zhang, S. & McGhee, D. 2023, 'From Preventing physical infection to managing affective contagion: An initial study of daily nursing practices in the early outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in Wuhan', Social Science and Medicine, 329, article no: 116033. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.socscimed.2023.116033

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Last updated: 13 September 2023
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