Acute stress and frontline healthcare providers

Background:Repeated exposure to stress increases the risk of acute stress response (ASR) and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).Aims:The authors aimed to investigate ASR/PTSD symptoms among a multidisciplinary population of frontline health professionals who care for injured and critically unwell patients.Methods:A voluntary, anonymous questionnaire included an Impact of Events Scale-revised (IES-R) assessment, addressed stressors, teamwork, and mentorship. An IES-R score of >33 indicated symptoms in keeping with ASR (lasting <1 month) and PTSD (lasting >1 month).Findings:15% (27/181) of returned questionnaires had an IES-R score >33; 19 had symptoms >1 month. Seven participants with IES-R >33 group had sought professional help. Less than half knew of a mentorship programme at their place of work.Conclusion:There is a hidden, untreated burden of stress symptoms among frontline emergency healthcare providers, and a variable environment of mentorship and teamwork. Attention is warranted if patient safety is to be optimised.

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