Paediatric health-care professionals: Relationships between psychological distress, resilience and coping skills

Authors

  • Sarah McGarry,

    Corresponding author
    1. Princess Margaret Hospital for Children, Perth, Western Australia, Australia
    • Faculty of Computer, Health and Science, Edith Cowan University, Perth, Western Australia, Australia
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  • Sonya Girdler,

    1. Faculty of Computer, Health and Science, Edith Cowan University, Perth, Western Australia, Australia
    2. School of Occupational Therapy and Social Work, Centre for Research into Disability and Society, Curtin Health, Innovation Research Institute, Curtin University, Perth, Western Australia, Australia
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  • Ann McDonald,

    1. Princess Margaret Hospital for Children, Perth, Western Australia, Australia
    2. School of Paediatrics and Child Health, University of Western Australia, Perth, Western Australia, Australia
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  • Jane Valentine,

    1. Princess Margaret Hospital for Children, Perth, Western Australia, Australia
    2. School of Paediatrics and Child Health, University of Western Australia, Perth, Western Australia, Australia
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  • Shew-Lee Lee,

    1. Princess Margaret Hospital for Children, Perth, Western Australia, Australia
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  • Eve Blair,

    1. Princess Margaret Hospital for Children, Perth, Western Australia, Australia
    2. School of Paediatrics and Child Health, University of Western Australia, Perth, Western Australia, Australia
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  • Fiona Wood,

    1. School of Paediatrics and Child Health, University of Western Australia, Perth, Western Australia, Australia
    2. School of Surgery, Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences, University of Western Australia, Perth, Western Australia, Australia
    3. Burn Service of Western Australia, Perth, Western Australia, Australia
    4. Fiona Wood Foundation, Perth, Western Australia, Australia
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  • Catherine Elliott

    1. Princess Margaret Hospital for Children, Perth, Western Australia, Australia
    2. School of Paediatrics and Child Health, University of Western Australia, Perth, Western Australia, Australia
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  • Conflict of interest: No authors have a conflict of interest.
  • This work was conducted at Princess Margaret Hospital.

Correspondence: Miss Sarah McGarry, Department of Occupational Therapy, Princess Margaret Hospital, Roberts Rd, Subiaco, WA 6008, Australia. Fax: 08 9340 8637; email: sarah.mcgarry@health.wa.gov.au

Abstract

Aim

To investigate the impact of regular exposure to paediatric medical trauma on multidisciplinary teams in a paediatric hospital and the relationships between psychological distress, resilience and coping skills.

Method

Symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, secondary traumatic stress, depression, anxiety, stress, burnout, compassion satisfaction, resilience and coping skills were measured in 54 health professionals and compared with published norms.

Results

Participants experienced more symptoms of secondary traumatic stress (P < 0.01), showed less resilience (P = 0.05) and compassion satisfaction (≥0.01), more use of optimism and sharing as coping strategies, and less use of dealing with the problem and non-productive coping strategies than comparative groups. Non-productive coping was associated with more secondary traumatic stress (r = 0.50, P = 0.05), burnout (r = 0.45, P = 0.01), post-traumatic stress disorder (r = 0.41, P = 0.05), anxiety (r = 0.42, P = 0.05), depression (r = 0.54, P = 0.01), and stress (r = 0.52, P = 0.01) and resilience was positively associated with optimism (r = 0.48, P = 0.01). Health professionals <25 years old used more non-productive coping strategies (P = 0.05), less ‘sharing as a coping strategy’ (P = 0.05) and tended to have more symptoms of depression (P = 0.06).

Conclusion

Paediatric medical trauma can adversely affect a health professional's well-being, particularly those <25 years of age who make less use of positive coping strategies and more use of non-productive coping. These findings will assist the development of effective and meaningful interventions for health professionals working in paediatric hospitals.

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