Professor Pauline Slade – PTSD in Obs and Gynae

This project will measure symptoms of PTSD, burnout, impairment to daily life and empathy in Obstetricians and Gynaecologists.

Professor Pauline Slade , University of Liverpool: Work-related posttraumatic stress in obstetricians and gynaecologists

£71,697 over 18 months

Maternity professionals can encounter traumatic events whilst caring for women throughout the perinatal period. Exposure to trauma can lead to the development of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which can negatively impact upon personal and professional wellbeing. Our previous work has highlighted the potential for midwives to experience clinical levels of PTSD and emotional exhaustion as a result of workplace related trauma exposure, and for trauma to impact upon levels of absenteeism and retention of the workforce. If a healthcare professional is experiencing PTSD and emotional exhaustion, then their capacity to provide the sensitive, compassionate care that is so vital for maternity services will be compromised. There is limited understanding regarding obstetricians’ and gynaecologists’ experiences of traumatic perinatal events, and the personal and professional consequences for and specific exploration is required.

This project aims to assess the frequency and consequences of obstetricians’ and gynaecologists’ exposure to traumatic work-related events and identify how this impact upon them. In collaboration with the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, surveys will be emailed to a stratified random sample of consultant and trainee members. The surveys will collect information about the frequency and nature of exposure to traumatic perinatal events, how if this the case such events impact upon personal and professional lives. It will measure symptoms of PTSD, burnout, impairment to daily life and empathy. In order to provide more depth of information we will also interview a subsample of survey respondents about their experiences of trauma, impacts, use of helpful strategies to manage responses and obtain their perspectives on the utility of a preventative package currently undergoing testing with midwives. Findings from this research will have the potential to design prevention and intervention strategies to improve employee wellbeing, through improved mental health of staff, the quality of maternity care provided can be enhanced and therefore the wellbeing of women.

This project was co-funded by The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists