In the health sector, it has become clear that staff who feel better supported deliver better care. Can disaster management learn from this drive to ensure compassionate care to avoid the perils of burnout and empathy exhaustion?
Aim – To explore GP perceptions of the impact of the 2010/2011 Canterbury earthquakes on primary care clinic patients.
Methods – Qualitative study using semi-structured interviews with eight GPs from the Christchurch area exploring GPs’ perceptions of the impact on patients.
Results – Patients experienced significant strain and anxiety following the earthquakes. The impact of this differed due to personal circumstances. Secondary stressors such as insurance and housing issues contributed to experiences of distress.
Conclusions – The GPs identified significant impacts on patients as a result of the earthquakes with significant levels of strain and anxiety being due to the on-going recovery process. It appears that a significant proportion of the affected population felt comfortable talking with the GPs about the earthquakes, secondary stressors and their effects upon them.
Aim – To explore the challenges for general practitioners (GPs) following the 2010/2011 Canterbury earthquakes and describe how these were met.
Methods – Qualitative study using semi-structured interviews with eight GPs from the Christchurch area exploring their experiences.
Results – The interviews revealed that the GPs faced a range of challenges both in the immediate aftermath of the earthquakes and in the following months. These included dealing with an increased and changed workload, and managing personal concerns. The GPs reflected on their coping behaviour and how their professional practice had changed as a result.
Conclusions – All GPs reported significant increases in workload raising questions about the need for coordination of locum support. GPs often found themselves working outside their area of accustomed expertise especially in relation to patients needing financial aid. GPs identified a number of coping behaviours though some only in hindsight. Greater awareness of self-care strategies would benefit GPs responding to disasters.
Psychosocial support is a widely accepted term referring to activities designed to promote social and psychological recovery in disasters, and is a crucial concept in the organisation and management of preparedness, response and recovery systems. The New Zealand Ministry of Health recognised the importance of a common framework of understanding this concept, and commissioned a series of workshops to promote the understanding and implementation of psychosocial support concepts in disasters.
Two hundred and eighty-eight people participated in 9 educational workshops across New Zealand – before the recent Canterbury earthquakes – designed to educate people about the key concepts and delivery models of psychosocial support during and after emergency events. Participants were also asked to note down three key ideas concerning what psychosocial support meant to them both before and after participating in the workshop.
The level of satisfaction reported both for the workshop presentations (4.5 out of 5) and the resources provided (4.6 out of 5) suggested that participants were highly engaged with the presented material, and that this may be a useful training resource tool for education about psychosocial support in emergency events. Although the general concepts of support and recovery remained important both before and after the workshops, there was a shift to expressing attitudes acknowledging the importance of the management and organisation of psychosocial support activities.
Overall, the findings suggest that participants’ attitudes about psychosocial support in disasters changed after attending the workshop, from a consideration of the experience of the individual in a disaster to more structured ideas about how supportive interventions might be organised and implemented. Although care should be taken to reinforce the core actions of psychosocial support for practitioners, the workshops seem to offer a promising approach for developing cross-agency understanding on managing psychosocial support interventions.
Citation: Johal S. Assessing the Impact Of Workshops Promoting Concepts of Psychosocial Support for Emergency Events. PLOS Currents Disasters. 2012 Sep 17. doi: 10.1371/4fd80324dd362.