Original Research - Special Collection: Mental Health

Registered nurses’ management of depression in general wards

Mandisa Mpetshu, Jeanette E. Maritz
Health SA Gesondheid | Vol 28 | a2328 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hsag.v28i0.2328 | © 2023 Mandisa Mpetshu, Jeanette E. Maritz | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 26 January 2023 | Published: 28 November 2023

About the author(s)

Mandisa Mpetshu, Department of Health Studies, Faculty of Human Sciences, University of South Africa, Pretoria, South Africa
Jeanette E. Maritz, Department of Health Studies, Faculty of Human Sciences, University of South Africa, Pretoria, South Africa


Background: During and in the aftermath of the COVID-19, the rate of depression increased globally. A significant number of patients found in a general hospital or ward with physical conditions often have depression.

Aim: This study aimed to gain an in-depth understanding of registered nurses’ experiences managing patients with depression in a general medical ward.

Setting: The study took place in two general medical wards of a private hospital in the Gauteng province, South Africa, in 2021, with COVID-19 lockdown levels three to one prevailing.

Methods: A descriptive qualitative design was used, and data were collected through 10 in-depth, face-to-face interviews. Data were analysed using a thematic approach.

Results: The COVID-19 pandemic exerted a bidirectional influence, affecting both patients diagnosed with depression while admitted to a general ward and the nurses caring for them. This mutual impact added an additional layer of complexity to patient management.

Conclusion: For optimal care of patients with depression in general wards, nurses need comprehensive training, confidence and a safe environment, bolstered by sufficient resources and robust management support.

Contribution: The study highlights critical challenges in detecting and caring for patients diagnosed with depression in a general medical ward and the compounding effect of COVID-19. These findings underscore the importance of addressing clinical and psychosocial needs in a healthcare setting, especially amid a global pandemic.


COVID-19 pandemic; depression; death anxiety; general medical ward; patients; nurses.

Sustainable Development Goal

Goal 3: Good health and well-being


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