Psychological crisis and emergency intervention for frontline critical care workers during the COVID-19 pandemic

J Clin Nurs. 2021 Sep 20. doi: 10.1111/jocn.16050. Online ahead of print.


AIM: To explore the main feelings and coping strategies among frontline critical care workers during the first phase of the COVID-19 pandemic and to evaluate the level of satisfaction after a psychological crisis and emergency intervention.

BACKGROUND: The health crisis brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed critical care workers to an intense physical and emotional burden. Scientific research recommends psychological crisis and emergency interventions during the acute phase to help cope with the situation and prevent emotional side effects.

DESIGN: A multicentre descriptive study with mixed qualitative and quantitative data was developed.

METHODS: Healthcare and non-healthcare critical care workers from 16 hospitals were included. Psychological crisis assistance was given (for individuals and groups), both face-to-face and online, with 18 psychologists for two months. Content analysis from the psychologists’ session reports after each intervention was performed (COREQ). Satisfaction with the intervention was assessed with an ‘ad hoc’ 21-item online survey.

RESULTS: A total of 553 interventions were carried out (361 individually and 192 in groups). Four themes were identified: 1-Imbalance between occupational demands and resources; 2-Acute stress responses; 3-Personal and professional consequences; and 4-Protection factors. The main protection factor identified was group cohesion and perceived social support. The mean general satisfaction with the intervention was high and 96.2% (n=252) of the participants would recommend it in future.

CONCLUSIONS: A psychological crisis and emergency intervention helped critical care workers during the COVID-19 pandemic to verbalise and integrate the situation, providing strategies to cope with the experience with a high level of satisfaction from the participants assisted.

RELEVANCE TO CLINICAL PRACTICE: During the COVID-19 pandemic, support groups guided by psychologists fostered reflection on aspects related to work, interaction with patients and relatives and social support from workmates that help them for coping with stress, share emotions and experiences and feel understood.

PMID:34542199 | DOI:10.1111/jocn.16050

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