First insights into post-pandemic distress in a high secure hospital: Correlates among staff and patients

Levtova, Yara, Melunovic, Irma, Mead, Caroline and Ireland, Jane Louise orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-5117-5930 (2024) First insights into post-pandemic distress in a high secure hospital: Correlates among staff and patients. Journal of Forensic Practice .

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This preliminary study is designed to gauge the enduring psychological impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on both patients and staff in a high secure settings.
The study involved 31 patients and 34 staff from a high secure setting, who completed assessments to discern the link between COVID-19-related distress and various factors. These evaluations focused on coping strategies, resilience, emotional reactivity, ward atmosphere, and work-related aspects.
Results indicated that 31.2% of staff met the clinical cut-off for potential PTSD due to COVID-19-related distress. Emotional reactivity, staff shortages, secondary traumatic stress, and coping strategies were positively correlated with distress, while resilience showed a negative association, suggesting a mitigating role. Notably, distress among patients was comparatively lower, with only 3.2% experiencing significant levels.
The authors postulate that increased staff burdens during the pandemic may have led to long-term distress, while their efforts to maintain minimal service disruption potentially shielded patients from psychological impacts, possibly lead to staff 'problem-focused coping burnout'. This highlights the need for in-depth research on the enduring impacts of pandemics, focusing on mechanisms that intensify or alleviate distress. Future studies should focus on identifying effective coping strategies for crisis situations, such as staff shortages, and strategies for post-crisis staff support.
Building on evidence of negative impacts on frontline workers and forensic inpatients during the pandemic, this study delved into the longer-term psychological repercussions that persisted post-pandemic. It sheds light on lasting distress levels and their correlates. These insights are crucial for formulating effective responses and strategies for future pandemics or analogous crises, highlighting the need for sustained support for staff grappling with long-term distress arising from such events.

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