Guest editorial

Theo Gavrielides (Restorative Justice for All (RJ4All) International Institute, London, UK)

International Journal of Human Rights in Healthcare

ISSN: 2056-4902

Article publication date: 12 December 2022

Issue publication date: 12 December 2022



Gavrielides, T. (2022), "Guest editorial", International Journal of Human Rights in Healthcare, Vol. 15 No. 5, pp. 413-415.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2022, Emerald Publishing Limited

Special issue: human rights and nursing

Welcome to the final 2022 issue of the International Journal of Human Rights in Healthcare (IJHRH). This Special Issue is dedicated to nurses, and their crucial role in serving and promoting human rights in health-care settings whether these are formal (e.g. hospitals) or informal (e.g. in the community).

At the time of writing, in the UK, for the first time in 106 years, tens of thousands of nurses are planning to go on strike, demanding better pay as the cost of living soars nationally. The government has just announced that the economy shrank by 0.2% in the third quarter of the year, entering yet another recession. The cost of living is increasing at its fastest rate in 40 years, while the price of food rose by 14.6% in the year to September, reaching its highest level since 1980! The UK Royal College of Nursing, which has more than 300,000 members, said industrial action would begin before the end of the year. Nurses have seen their salaries drop by up to 20% in real terms over the past 10 years. It is, therefore, fitting that this timely Special Issue focuses on the key critical matters impacting on the nursing profession not only in the UK, but also internationally. As per our journal’s mission, we aim to raise awareness of critical global matters impacting on human rights in health and social care, and through evidence-based publications advance research, policy and practice.

The first paper “The moderating role of life satisfaction in the relationship between burnout and depression among nursing staff: a human rights concern in Pakistan” examines the role of life satisfaction in the relationship between burnout and depression among nurses to highlight the human rights norms for institutions. The paper is based on data that was collected using well-established questionnaires with 250 nurses working in public and private hospitals of Islamabad between September and December 2017. Correlation analysis revealed that burnout was positively associated with depression and negatively associated with life satisfaction. Moreover, depression was negatively associated with life satisfaction. Moderation analysis demonstrated that life satisfaction moderated the relationship between burnout and depression. Female nurses scored high on burnout as compared to male nurses. It is clear from the findings of this original study that Pakistani hospitals and other health-care organizations should take measures to condense the level of burnout among nurses. Furthermore, effort must be made to improve the level of life satisfaction, reducing the negative emotions associated with burnout. This is not a recommendation relevant only to Pakistani officials, but to policymakers and decision-makers across the world.

“How workplace bullying affects nurses’ well-being? The roles of burnout and passive avoidant leadership” examines the mediating role of burnout between workplace bullying and nurses’ well-being. The paper is based on data that was collected through questionnaires with 14 nurses. The research indicated that passive avoidant leadership was a conditional variable that strengthens the positive association between workplace bullying and burnout. The need to develop and implement counter-bullying rules as well as train managers and staff in implementing them were identified as key steps forward. We know from the extant literature that research on workplace bullying in high-power distance cultures are scant, and thus this paper takes a bold step in bridging this research gap.

The third paper “Work environment and performance among nurses: A significant way to overcome violation of human rights in the health sector.” This study was based on cross-sectional and random sampling drawn from 306 trained health nurses in Pakistan. Among its findings, the paper points out that better nurses’ performance through the work environment would provide equity in health and would not violate fundamental human rights. This work may indeed help human resource management to bring advancement in organizational and social determinants of health equity and practical interventions to overwhelm health-care barriers.

Moving on to “Human Rights of People with Mental Illness: Determining Knowledge and Attitude of Nursing Students in Enugu State Nigeria,” this paper focuses on the those suffering from mental health issues that prevent them from asserting their rights. The paper is based on a study that assessed the knowledge and attitude of nursing students regarding the human rights of people with mental health challenges. To this end, data were collected using a 38-item literature-based questionnaire with 72 nursing students from two nursing schools in Enugu, Nigeria. Interestingly, only 44.4% of the sample demonstrated moderate knowledge regarding the human rights of people with mental health problems. However, the attitude of nursing students toward the right of people with mental illness was to a larger extent positive. Nonetheless, the paper does point out that the rising numbers of incidences of human right violations in mental health practice indicate the need to assess the knowledge and attitude of the future workforce in a much better way. For example, the nursing curriculum could provide for additional and more specialist information on the human rights of people with mental health problems. Moreover, the paper points out that more appropriate legislation is needed in Nigeria for protecting and advancing the human rights of people with mental illness. This is also a conclusion that I claim relates to practices across Europe including the UK. Mental health remains to be a stigma which despite existing legislation is yet to be acknowledged and address in practice.

Subsequently, “Covid-19 crisis overshadowing the health workforces’ rights and resilience: A systematic review” investigates the physical, psychological and spiritual difficulties that were imposed on nurses and other frontline staff during the pandemic. The increased working load and stress caused by the pandemic had a direct impact on nurses and staff’s rights, resilience and retention. Through desk-based research that was conducted in 2021, the paper reviews the influential factors, policies and strategies applied to defend the rights of health-care staff and improve the resilience and retention of health system human resources in the COVID-19 crisis. In addition, the paper summarizes the policies and strategies that were used in a number of countries to overcome the difficulties posed by the pandemic on staff, what was done to increase the resilience and retention of staff and nurses.

Similarly, “Challenges facing hospital human resources during the COVID-19 pandemic: a qualitative study in Iran” examines the health workforce challenges at Iranian hospitals during the COVID-19 pandemic. Through a conventional content analysis study that was conducted in 2020 with 28 managers (e.g. heads of hospitals) and staff (e.g. nurses), the paper makes some timely observations. Challenges of hospital human resources including nurses were categorized into 5 main themes and 15 subthemes. The main themes were the shortage of human resources, burnout, the need to acquire new knowledge and skills, the employees’ health and safety and the reward system. Implementing the recommendations of the present study would assist the proper management of hospitals’ human resources.

I hope that you find this Issue useful in your practice and research. Your feedback is always welcome; you can submit your views via our website as well as your work for peer review and publication at We review papers on an ongoing basis and have a target of returning them to the author within five to eight– weeks of receipt. Warm wishes from everyone at the IJHRH and stay safe!

About the author

Theo Gavrielides is based at Restorative Justice for All (RJ4All) International Institute, London, UK.

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