The United States, as of October 2021, is the country with the most reported COVID-19 cases and COVID-19 deaths in the world. Since the first case was confirmed, Registered Nurses working in the acute care setting have been at the forefront of this public health crisis. As the pandemic has continued, studies have been conducted to collect, analyze, and reveal the effect of COVID-19-related stress on Registered Nurses in the United States. This critical literature review takes eleven published studies related to this topic, discusses the commonalities between them, addresses limitations in the literature and offers recommendations for future research. This review discusses five themes among the studies: the impact of inadequate PPE supply, COVID-19-related stress from direct contact with COVID-19 patients, stress levels reported by those working in the ICU setting, nurses self-isolating and the fear of infection or infecting others with COVID-19, and continued exposure to stressful work conditions during the pandemic, resulting in long-term effects, including chronic stress and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The databases used for this project were CINAHL Plus with Full Text, APA PsychInfo, and MEDLINE. This literature review suggests that COVID-19-related stress in the nursing profession in the United States produced acute and chronic stress responses. Nurses experienced various negative emotions, including burnout, stress, anxiety, and depression. Additional findings included insomnia, fatigue, and feelings of not being supported adequately by hospital administration. Based on the results, the researcher identified several recommendations to aid future research exploring the topic of COVID-19-related stress among registered nurses in the United States and how this research can be utilized when considering ways to address work-related stress and PSTD among acute care nurses in the future.

Thesis Completion




Thesis Chair/Advisor

Kinchen, Elizabeth V.


Bachelor of Science in Nursing (B.S.N.)


College of Nursing



Access Status

Open Access

Release Date


Included in

Nursing Commons