New study highlights the distress of medical staff

January 28, 2009

Whilst losing a baby is distressing for parents, until now it has been less widely acknowledged that medical staff themselves can be affected by the losses experienced by their patients.

New research from the University of Leicester shows that staff working in obstetrics and gynaecology, caring for families experiencing loss, can also experience significant and clinical levels of distress.

Senior staff and those with significant experience can be affected as much as their junior colleagues.

Dr Sonya Wallbank, working with Dr Noelle Robertson in the University's Department of Psychology and Christine Cordle, in Medical Psychology, Leicester Royal Infirmary, investigated a total of 340 doctors, nurses and midwives across two NHS Trusts as part of the study.

She received a high response rate for this type of research, which showed that 55% of participants experienced subjective stress levels, which would provide a 'high' level of clinical concern, 24 % 'medium' and 21 % 'low'.

One midwife described how upset she became when she could not locate a fetal heartbeat during a 'straightforward' delivery and realised the baby had died. The midwife stayed with the family through the labour but recounted how difficult she found leaving the hospital that evening and returning to her own family. The loss had a lasting impact on the midwife, she felt anxious during even routine deliveries and found even being on the ward was difficult.

Sue Bennion, Senior Midwife at Leicester Royal Infirmary said "We welcome this insightful research, and I am pleased to say that we have in place a number of support systems to help midwives through distressing incidents that they might become involved in. All of our midwives have access 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to a supervisor of midwives who can talk through their experiences and work with them to manage any anxieties they may have. They also receive direct support from their manager and AMICA, our staff counseling service, as are our support staff. Unfortunately we sometimes have to deal with difficult or stressful situations but we are committed to providing medical staff with the support systems to enable them to cope, and we are always looking for ways to make that support more accessible."

Dr Wallbank commented: "I have continued my research with one of the Trusts and provided a pilot service to support staff experiencing distress.

"The effectiveness of this service against a control group was shown to be successful and we are now putting a bid together for the recruitment of a Clinical Psychologist to work on a more permanent basis with the Obstetrics team. This will ensure that staff are able to share their distress and remain focused on their work."

Source: University of Leicester

Explore further: Science funding should go to people, not projects

Related Stories

First exoskeleton for industry unveiled

June 16, 2015

Production workers often lift up to 10 metric tons of material a day. According to the Work Foundation Alliance (Lancaster, UK), 44 million workers in the EU suffer from work-related musculoskeletal disorders. Now researchers ...

South African medics make big effort to save Hope the rhino

June 9, 2015

The horns and a large portion of the rhino's face were severed by poachers, a horrific injury that had some observers wincing at the sight of exposed flesh and bone. One South African veterinarian treating the mutilated survivor ...

Researchers prove magnetism can control heat, sound

May 28, 2015

Phonons—the elemental particles that transmit both heat and sound—have magnetic properties, according to a landmark study supported by Ohio Supercomputer Center (OSC) services and recently published by a researcher group ...

Job-sharing with nursing robot

May 27, 2015

Given the aging of the population and the low birthrate both in Japan and elsewhere, healthcare professionals are in short supply and unevenly distributed, giving rise to a need for alternatives to humans for performing simple ...

Recommended for you

Machine Translates Thoughts into Speech in Real Time

December 21, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- By implanting an electrode into the brain of a person with locked-in syndrome, scientists have demonstrated how to wirelessly transmit neural signals to a speech synthesizer. The "thought-to-speech" process ...

Quantum Theory May Explain Wishful Thinking

April 14, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- Humans don’t always make the most rational decisions. As studies have shown, even when logic and reasoning point in one direction, sometimes we chose the opposite route, motivated by personal bias or simply ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.