Work-related critical incidents in hospital-based health care providers and the risk of post-traumatic stress symptoms, anxiety, and depression: A meta-analysis
This meta-analysis reviewed existing data on the impact of work-related critical incidents in hospital-based health care professionals. Work-related critical incidents may induce post-traumatic stress symptoms or even post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, and depression and may negatively affect health care practitioners’ behaviors toward patients. Nurses and doctors often cope by working part time or switching jobs. Hospital administrators and health care practitioners themselves may underestimate the effects of work-related critical incidents. Relevant online databases were searched for original research published from inception to 2009 and manual searches of the Journal of Traumatic Stress, reference lists, and the European Traumatic Stress Research Database were conducted. Two researchers independently decided on inclusion and study quality. Effect sizes were estimated using standardized mean differences with 95% confidence intervals. Consistency was evaluated, using the I2-statistic. Meta-analysis was performed using the random effects model. Eleven studies, which included 3866 participants, evaluated the relationship between work-related critical incidents and post-traumatic stress symptoms. Six of these studies, which included 1695 participants, also reported on the relationship between work-related critical incidents and symptoms of anxiety and depression. Heterogeneity among studies was high and could not be accounted for by study quality, character of the incident, or timing of data collection. Pooled effect sizes for the impact of work-related critical incidents on post-traumatic stress symptoms, anxiety, and depression were small to medium. Remarkably, the effect was more pronounced in the longer than in the shorter term. In conclusion, this meta-analysis supports the hypothesis that work-related critical incidents are positively related to post-traumatic stress symptoms, anxiety, and depression in hospital-based health care professionals. Health care workers and their supervisors should be aware of the harmful effects of critical incidents and take preventive measures. âº Critical incidents induce PTSD-symptoms, anxiety, and depression. âº PTSD-symptoms are more pronounced in the longer than the shorter term. âº Health professionals suffer from impaired functioning but relatively few seek help. âº Professionals should be aware of and prevent harmful effects of critical incidents.