Managing Shifting Visitor Restrictions in Hospitals during the COVID-19 Pandemic from National Authority Level to Charge Nurses’ Practice: A Descriptive Study

Research output: Contribution to journal/Conference contribution in journal/Contribution to newspaperJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Introduction. Little is known about how shifting hospital visitor restrictions issued by national health authorities were communicated, managed, and adapted by hospital charge nurses during the COVID-19 pandemic. Aims. To describe the shifting visitor restrictions and the passing on of restrictions from the national authority level to charge nurses and secondly describe charge nurses' management of the restrictions and their challenges when enforcing them. Methods. The study consisted of a document analysis and a cross-sectional survey including open-ended questions. Descriptive statistics and qualitative content analysis were used. The survey was distributed online to 88 charge nurses in somatic units in a Danish university hospital from March 2020 to April 2021. Results. Restrictions were communicated from national authority level in an effective administrative cascade. The charge nurses led their enforcement in each unit. In total, 71 charge nurses (81%) responded to the survey. For 70%, the wording of the restrictions was clear, while 31% found them challenging to handle. On a weekly or daily basis, 68% of the charge nurses deviated from the restrictions. They identified both upsides and downsides to the absence of relatives. Communication, collaboration, and leadership were experienced as key tools in the ongoing processes of adapting to shifting restrictions. Conclusion. During this severe health crisis, essential information was passed on through well-defined management levels in an effective communication pathway. Charge nurses and their professional values were challenged when balancing shifting national restrictions against individual needs of patients and relatives. Implications for Nursing Management. Charge nurses serve as vital intermediaries between national authorities and frontline nursing practice in managing shifting visitor restrictions during a pandemic. Their experiences can contribute to further qualifying nurse managers' considerations when designing family-centred hospital visitor policies for the future. Also, they may strengthen the handling of future sudden major organizational changes.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1393767
JournalJournal of Nursing Management
Pages (from-to)1-12
Number of pages12
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2024

Cite this