Evaluating the Efficacy of Peer Support Programs for Healthcare Employees

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The Resilience in Stressful Events program at the Johns Hopkins Hospital provides timely peer support to employees who experience adverse events.
The Resilience in Stressful Events program at the Johns Hopkins Hospital provides timely peer support to employees who experience adverse events.

Study data published in the Journal of Pediatric Nursing suggest that peer support programs implemented by hospitals may be effective in helping pediatric healthcare workers cope with stressful patient-related events.

Healthcare providers traumatized by an adverse patient event are commonly referred to as "second victims" and may benefit from institutional and peer support to assist in recovery. The Resilience in Stressful Events (RISE) program at the Johns Hopkins Hospital provides timely peer support to employees who experience adverse events. Researchers designed a mixed-method evaluation of RISE, incorporating both quantitative analysis of staff surveys and content analysis of survey responses. Anonymous surveys were offered to all pediatric department workers at both a pre-implementation point and at 4 years of follow-up.

Of approximately 900 total employees in the Department of Pediatrics, 22.4% completed the pre-implementation survey; 23.3% completed the 4-year follow-up survey. At follow-up, two thirds of respondents were aware of the RISE program (66%), although awareness level was much lower among physicians than among nurses (35% vs 75%; P =.001). At follow-up, more respondents perceived that organizational support was available to them (60% vs 41%; P <.001) and that they could benefit from reaching out for support (94% vs 85%; P =.014).

Among follow-up respondents, 10% reported that they had accessed RISE. Of those participants, 93% reported that they were "very likely" to recommend the program to others. Pediatricians were somewhat less willing than pediatric nurses to recommend RISE (P =.047). Content analysis of open-ended survey responses identified anonymity, a nonjudgmental approach, 24/7 access, and commitment to follow-up as the most desired features of organizational support. Some respondents highlighted potential barriers for the implementation of RISE, including the need to overcome "blame culture," the need for active promotion of the program, and the need for the hospital to allow more time and resources for second victims.

These data offer preliminary evidence for the efficacy of RISE and similar programs in supporting healthcare workers. Survey responses highlight the importance of hospital involvement and organizational culture in implementing and evaluating such programs.

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Reference

Dukanin V, Edrees HH, Connors CA, Kang E, Norvell M, Wu AW. Case: A second victim support program in pediatrics: successes and challenges to implementation [published online January 30, 2018]. J Pediatr Nurs. doi: 10.1016/j.pedn.2018.01.011

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