The goal of this study was to identify support activities for emergency room nurses who have been exposed to traumatic events, in order to prevent post-traumatic stress disorder.
Emergency room nurses experience stress during traumatic events, for which they need support. It turns out that such support is insufficient, ineffective or non-existent.
This qualitative study was carried out among twelve emergency room nurses from January to May 2007. Semi-structured interviews and a focus group were conducted. Content analysis fulfilled the objectives of our research.
The frequency of traumatic events leading to contextual exposure and exposure as a witness increases with years of experience (r=0·67 and r=0·57). The frequency of post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms decreases with age (r=-0·83). The data demonstrate the importance of having a supportive social network and being able to talk things over with colleagues. The support activities considered include all types of prevention. They consist primarily of a peer support system, psycho-education and emergency room simulations.
A three-level complex of support activities represents a promising solution to prevent and treat post-traumatic stress disorder among emergency room nurses. A further study to test its effectiveness is currently underway.