Distressed Work: Chronic Imperatives and Distress in Covid-19 Critical Care.
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This ethnographic study introduces the term "distressed work" to describe the emergence of chronic frictions between moral imperatives for health care workers to keep working and the dramatic increase in distress during the Covid-19 pandemic. Interviews and observant participation conducted in a hospital intensive care unit during the Covid-19 pandemic reveal how health care workers connected job duties with extraordinary emotional, physical, and moral burdens. We explore tensions between perceived obligations of health care professionals and the structural contexts of work. Key findings cluster around the moral imperatives of health care work and the distress that work engendered as work spaces, senses of vocation, patient and family interactions, and end-of-life care shifted. While the danger of working beyond limits has long been an ordinary feature of health care work, it has now become a chronic crisis. Assessing this problem in terms of distressed work and its structural contexts can better address effective, worker-informed responses to current health care labor dilemmas.
Published Version (Please cite this version)10.1002/hast.1458
Publication InfoNavuluri, Neelima; Solomon, Harris S; Hargett, Charles W; & Kussin, Peter S (2023). Distressed Work: Chronic Imperatives and Distress in Covid-19 Critical Care. The Hastings Center report, 53(1). pp. 33-45. 10.1002/hast.1458. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/26722.
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Charles William Hargett III
Assistant Professor of Medicine
Peter Samuel Kussin
Professor of Medicine
The majority of my effort is devoted to clinical care of patients with advanced lung disease and teaching. I spend four months a year in Eldoret Kenya working at Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital as part of The Duke Hubert Yeargan Institute for Global Health and AMPATH- a consortium of North American Medical Schools collaborating with Moi University School of Medicine and Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital. I work primarily in the intensive care unit and medicine wards. I am involv
Assistant Professor of Medicine
Harris Scott Solomon
Fred W. Shaffer Associate Professor
As a medical anthropologist, I am interested in the dynamic relations between medicine and everyday social and political life. My work is primarily based in urban India, and I also conduct research in the US. My most recent work is a book project, entitled Lifelines: The Traffic of Trauma (Duke University Press, 2022). Lifelines is an ethnographic study of road and railway injuries and of trauma s
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