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Psychiatr Serv. 1998 Feb;49(2):207-12.

Effect of staff debriefing on posttraumatic stress symptoms after assaults by community housing residents.

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  • 1School of Community Health, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Sydney, NSW, Australia.



The study examined the efficacy of critical incident stress debriefing in ameliorating the impact of posttraumatic stress on direct care psychiatric workers after a traumatic event at work.


Sixty-three direct care workers from two areas in Sydney, Australia, who worked in community residences for persons with developmental and psychiatric disabilities were surveyed about symptoms of intrusive thoughts, avoidance, and hyperarousal one week after they experienced an assault or another type of work-related trauma. Survey respondents included 14 workers who requested and attended a one-session critical incident stress debriefing during the week after the incident, 18 workers from the same area of Sydney who had access to the intervention but chose not to attend, and 31 who worked in an area where the intervention was not available.


Sixty-two workers reported symptoms of posttraumatic stress. Lower levels were reported by workers in the area where the intervention was available. When other factors were controlled, the lowest levels of stress were reported by workers to whom the debriefing was available but who chose not to attend. No significant difference in overall stress reduction in the week after the incident was found between the workers who received the intervention and those who did not.


Although critical incident stress debriefing was evaluated positively by the majority of participants, aspects of the intervention such as its timing and the work environment in which it is offered may affect the degree to which participants benefit from it.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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