Registered Nurses' Perceptions after a Patient with Ebola Virus Disease Is Admitted to Their Hospital

Nanci Nagel, Helen Salisbury, Holly Hinson

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Emerging diseases affect the nursing workforce, but little is known about the willingness of registered nurses (RNs) to work during outbreaks (eg, Ebola virus disease, COVID-19). The objective of our study was to examine the perceptions and attitudes of RNs in the United States regarding their duty to care and willingness to work after a patient infected with the Ebola virus was admitted to their hospital. We performed a quantitative, descriptive study using social media to recruit critical care RNs to complete an online survey. A total of 72 RNs completed the survey. While only 20 respondents reported providing direct care, more than half (n = 38) reported that family members asked them not to work with patients infected with the Ebola virus. A majority of respondents (n = 63) agreed that healthcare workers have a duty to help sick people despite high risks to themselves or their families; however, 59 agreed that family responsibilities would take priority. Respondents were less likely to work if their partners (n = 11) or children (n = 7) were ill but more likely to work if colleagues were infected (n = 48) or dying (n = 40). Shunning was experienced by 32 respondents, and 25 knew of others who were shunned. We observed several factors that affect RNs' willingness to provide care when patients are admitted, including moral conflict between their duty to treat sick people and their duty to protect their family. As part of infectious disease emergency planning, health policy managers should consider these complex factors, which may modulate effective patient care. While this study was limited to RNs in the United States during an Ebola virus disease outbreak, the results signal a need for similar research on other emerging infections such as COVID-19.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)616-624
Number of pages9
JournalHealth security
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 1 2021


  • Bioethics
  • Ebola
  • Epidemic management/response
  • Hospital preparedness/response
  • Nursing ethics
  • Viral hemorrhagic fevers

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Emergency Medicine
  • Safety Research
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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