Introduction: The COVID-19 pandemic has been a major issue for health care delivery structures, which have been under constant pressure since its commencement. Health professionals, particularly front-line nurses, face extremely difficult working conditions, which have been documented in many studies internationally.
Aim: The main objective of this paper is to explore nurses' knowledge, attitudes and perceptions of the current pandemic, with a particular focus on issues that concerned their professional lives.
Material - Methods. A systematic critical search of the international literature was conducted in 2020-2021. The search terms used were: "nursing", "coronavirus", "pandemic", "knowledge", "attitudes", "perceptions", and their derivatives, synonyms and combinations in Pubmed. Once relevant studies were identified, a data extraction process was initiated for the purpose of this critical review.
Results: After careful perusal of 1277 original literature references, the analysis ultimately included 38 research studies on nurses' knowledge attitudes and perceptions during the COVID-19 pandemic. These were categorized under five themes, i.e. ‘nurses expressed problems of understaffing and increased workload’, ‘strong psychological effects’ (discomfort, fear, symptoms of anxiety and depression), ‘concerns about resource adequacy’ (mainly lack of personal protective equipment) and ‘difficulties in communication and seeking further information and education’.
Conclusions: During the pandemic, nurses, especially those on the front-line, reported multiple problems and concerns, both on a professional and personal level. The recognition of these problems can be useful and taken into account in central planning for possible future crises.