Dealing with secondary trauma and loss: personal and professonal difficulties for caregivers

Dealing with secondary trauma and loss: personal and professonal difficulties for caregivers

Eva Zsak

PhD student, Institute of Behavioural Sciences, Semmelweis University, Budapest, Hungary

Context:
Grief and emotional trauma caused by pre- and perinatal loss often develops into a phenomenon of complicated or even pathological mourning or professional burnout, a heavy burden for the parents, for their environment and for the health care personnel especially, due to the demanding chronic emotional burden it causes. Objective: (1) Analyse presently applied practices in preselected healthcare institutions, (2) compare the valid protocol with the effective support provided and (3) examine the effects these events have on the helping personnel professionally and psychologically.

Method:
In-depth interviews and questionnaires with the involved personnel (33; 80 respectively). The research focuses on the practice of the institutions regarding overall support of the bereaved families; on the existing and wanted theoretical and practical competencies; on personal attitudes regarding death and loss and on the experienced difficulties.

Results:
Facing pre- and perinatal loss is a specially demanding task for healthcare personnel in Hungary, with difficulties in communication, when helping families cope with loss, or when coping with the recurrent emotional difficulties, with their own feelings; all these leading to a higher risk of burn-out and compassion fatigue.

Conclusions:
Trainings, psychoeducative courses with specific focus on loss and grief are to be implemented on all levels of the formative processes to improve coping strategies, communication and adequate supporting skills and competencies aimed at providing better support for the patients and offering self-protecting measures for the involved professionals.

Ethics statement:
Ethics approval by the Semmelweis University, Regional, Institutional Scientific and Research Ethics Board, 8/2015. SE TUKEB, dated 4th Feb. 2015.


International Stillbirth Alliance, Annual Conference on Perinatal Mortality and Bereavement Care, Madrid, Spain. October 5-6th, 2019.

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