Surviving an infectious disease outbreak: How does nurse calling influence performance during the COVID-19 fight?

Yan Zhou, Eric Adom Asante, Yiyu Zhuang, Jie Wang, Yue Zhu, Lihua Shen

Research output: Journal PublicationArticlepeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)
28 Downloads (Pure)


Aim: To assess the performance of front-line nurses, who believed they were living out their calling, during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. Background: Although as a profession nursing generally requires high levels of performance, the disruption arising from an infectious disease outbreak increases the work stress and decreases the performance of front-line nurses. How this situation can be improved has yet to be thoroughly examined. Method: We used a snowball sampling technique to recruit 339 nurses who were originally from outside Hubei but volunteered to join medical teams going to Hubei to tackle COVID-19. Results: Drawing on the theory of work as a calling, we found that living a calling had a positive effect on front-line nurses’ performance through the clinical and relational care they provided. Perceived supervisor support strengthened these mediated relationships. Conclusion: Our findings indicate that despite the constraints associated with pandemics, front-line nurses who are living a calling are able to provide better clinical and relational care to infected patients, which in turn improves their performance. Implications for Nursing Management: The findings of this study suggest that hospitals can introduce career educational interventions to enhance nurses’ ability to discern and live out their calling to improve their performance.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)421-431
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Nursing Management
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2021


  • COVID-19
  • caring
  • living a calling
  • nursing performance
  • perceived supervisor support

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Leadership and Management


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