Impact of patient suicide on front-line staff in Ireland.

HSE Child & Adolescent Mental Health Service, Drumalee Cross, Cavan, Ireland.
Death Studies (Impact Factor: 0.92). 09/2009; 33(7):639-56. DOI: 10.1080/07481180903011990
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Research and anecdotal evidence suggests that coming to terms with the suicide of a patient can be extremely distressing for front-line professionals. Some research also suggests that exposure to such situations can undermine professionals' functioning and feelings of competence, cause them to question their professional standing and ultimately contribute to burnout. A survey of 447 front-line professionals' experiences of patient suicide was undertaken to further explore these issues. Thematic analysis of open-ended questionnaire items revealed that concerns for the bereaved family, feelings of responsibility for the death and having a close therapeutic relationship with the client are key factors that influence the adjustment and coping of a health professional in the aftermath of the death of a client by suicide. The results are discussed with a focus on the impact of suicide on front-line staff, the need for ongoing support and training and the development of specific post-suicide protocols.

  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: The reactions of professionals after a patient suicide are still a subject of controversy in academic literature. This article reports on retrospective data about the aftermath experienced by mental health professionals working in institutional settings in Switzerland. Findings indicate that both self-rated emotional responses and traumatic impact were low for the majority of the 258 professionals surveyed. Variables that mediated the impact included the support received and the characteristics of the professional-patient relationship. No significant differences were found with regard to gender and profession.
    Death Studies 08/2013; 38(5):315-21. DOI:10.1080/07481187.2013.766651 · 0.92 Impact Factor
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Abstract Background: Patient suicides can affect clinicians both personally and professionally, with frequent reports of psychological and behavioral changes occurring in response to this type of patient death. Although hospice clinicians have regular exposure to dying patients, the impact of patient suicide on this group has been understudied. Objectives: This study examined the personal and professional impact of patient suicides among hospice clinical staff, the coping strategies used by this group, and their recommendations for staff support after a patient suicide. Design: Utilizing an online survey, 186 hospice staff qualitatively described the impact of patient suicides on them as people and professionals, their resulting coping strategies, and any recommendations for supporting others. Three study investigators coded all of the staff responses at a paragraph level and summarized the most common emergent themes using grounded theory procedures. Setting/Subjects: One hundred eighty-six clinical staff members who worked in an academic nonprofit hospice setting. Measurements: An open-ended, qualitative survey was used to gather data about demographics, clinical experience, exposure to known or suspected suicides, recommendations for support in the event of a patient suicide, the personal and professional impacts of suicide, and coping strategies. Results: The themes expressed by the hospice staff in reaction to patient suicides included: psychological responses such as feelings of guilt and self-doubt, changes in professional attitudes, and changes in clinical practice such as greater sensitivity to signs of suicide. When coping with a patient suicide, hospice staff described the use of team-based support strategies, debriefings, and personal spiritual practices. Recommendations for future support included facilitated debriefings, individual counseling, spiritual practices, leaves of absence, self-care activities, and educational interventions. Conclusion: Data from this small study may help clinicians and administrators more fully understand the impact of patient suicides on hospice staff and may serve as a foundation for the development of effective strategies to support staff after a patient suicide.
    Journal of palliative medicine 04/2014; 17(7). DOI:10.1089/jpm.2013.0391 · 2.06 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Objective: To review the literature and make suggestions for further investigation. Methodology: An extensive search of the literature has been undertaken using computer database search. Results: Even if findings are heterogenous, most studies suggest limited stress-related or affective-related reactions for the majority of respondents. Whereas findings with regards to the impact on professional practice are consistent in identifying important consequences in the way professionals conduct their clinical assessment and reach treatment decisions after a patient's suicide. Discussion: Future research should investigate how this event changes the clinician's personal growth and capacity to establish a therapeutic alliance with other suicidal patients.
    Archives of suicide research: official journal of the International Academy for Suicide Research 05/2014; 18(4). DOI:10.1080/13811118.2013.833151