Critical Incident Stress and the Effectiveness of Debriefing for Hospital personnel

Brenda S. Verbick, Augsburg College


A model of intervention called Critical Incident Stress Debriefing (CISD) has been developed for the hospital setting to mitigate the impact of a critical incident and to assist workers in recovering as quickly as possible from the stress associated with the event.

This quantitative cross-sectional survey expands the knowledge of the impact of critical incidents on hospital workers and the effectiveness of the CISD model of intervention in reducing stress reactions. Through a self-administered survey, participants were asked to complete a subjective stress measurement tool, the revised Impact of Event Scale (IES-R), as well as a 'helpfulness' questionnaire developed to obtain participants' perceptions of the effectiveness of the CISD model in reducing stress symptoms.

The study revealed hospital staff involved in critical incidents experience both intrusion and avoidance symptoms following incidents. In addition, CISD intervention appears to be an effective mediator for hospital staff coping with critical incident stress. Implications for social work practice and policy are discussed.