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Psychosocial care for persons affected by emergencies and major incidents: a Delphi study to determine the needs of professional first responders for education, training and support
  1. John Drury1,
  2. Verity Kemp2,
  3. Jonathan Newman3,
  4. David Novelli1,
  5. Christopher Doyle4,
  6. Darren Walter5,
  7. Richard Williams6,7,8,9,10
  1. 1School of Psychology, University of Sussex, Brighton, UK
  2. 2Healthplanning Ltd, Reading, UK
  3. 3School of Global Studies, University of Sussex, Brighton, UK
  4. 4London Ambulance Service NHS Trust, London, UK
  5. 5University Hospital of South Manchester NHS Foundation Trust, Manchester, UK
  6. 6Welsh Institute for Health and Social Care, University of Glamorgan, Cardiff and Pontypridd, Wales, UK
  7. 7Health Protection Agency, UK
  8. 8University of Central Lancashire, Preston, England
  9. 9Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen, Scotland
  10. 10Ty Bryn, St Cadoc's Hospital, Aneurin Bevan Health Board, Caerleon, Wales, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr John Drury, School of Psychology, University of Sussex, Falmer, Brighton BN1 9QH, UK; j.drury{at}


Background The role of ambulance clinicians in providing psychosocial care in major incidents and emergencies is recognised in recent Department of Health guidance. The study described in this paper identified NHS professional first responders’ needs for education about survivors’ psychosocial responses, training in psychosocial skills, and continuing support.

Method Ambulance staff participated in an online Delphi questionnaire, comprising 74 items (Round 1) on 7-point Likert scales. Second-round and third-round participants each received feedback based on the previous round, and responded to modified versions of the original items and to new items for clarification.

Results One hundred and two participants took part in Round 1; 47 statements (64%) achieved consensus. In Round 2, 72 people from Round 1 participated; 15 out of 39 statements (38%) achieved consensus. In Round 3, 49 people from Round 2 participated; 15 out of 27 statements (59%) achieved consensus. Overall, there was consensus in the following areas: ‘psychosocial needs of patients’ (consensus in 34/37 items); ‘possible sources of stress in your work’ (8/9); ‘impacts of distress in your work’ (7/10); ‘meeting your own emotional needs’ (4/5); ‘support within your organisation’ (2/5); ‘needs for training in psychosocial skills for patients’ (15/15); ‘my needs for psychosocial training and support’ (5/6).

Conclusions Ambulance clinicians recognise their own education needs and the importance of their being offered psychosocial training and support. The authors recommend that, in order to meet patients’ psychosocial needs effectively, ambulance clinicians are provided with education and training in a number of skills and their own psychosocial support should be enhanced.

  • prehospital care, major incident / planning
  • psychiatry
  • psychology, staff support
  • psychology, patient support
  • prehospital care, first responders

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