A Video-based Debriefing Program to Support Emergency Medicine Clinician Well-being During the COVID-19 Pandemic
Western Journal of Emergency Medicine
Emergency clinicians on the frontline of the coronavirus pandemic experience a range of emotions including anxiety, fear, and grief. Debriefing can help clinicians process these emotions, but the coronavirus pandemic makes it difficult to create a physically and psychologically safe space in the emergency department (ED) to perform this intervention. In response, we piloted a video-based debriefing program to support emergency clinician well-being. We report the details of our program and
... s of our evaluation of its acceptability and perceived value to emergency clinicians during the pandemic. ED attending physicians, resident physicians, and non-physician practitioners (NPP) at our quaternary-care academic medical center were invited to participate in role-based, weekly one-hour facilitated debriefings using Zoom. ED attendings with experience in debriefing led each session and used an explorative approach that focused on empathy and normalizing reactions. At the end of the pilot, we distributed to participants an anonymous 10-point survey that included multiple-answer questions and visual analogue scales. We completed 18 debriefings with 68 unique participants (29 attending physicians, 6 resident physicians, and 33 NPPs. A total of 76% of participants responded to our survey and 77% of respondents participated in at least two debriefings. Emergency clinicians reported that the most common reasons to participate in the debriefings were "to enhance my sense of community and connection" (81%) followed by "to support colleagues" (75%). Debriefing with members of the same role group (92%) and the Zoom platform (81%) were considered to be helpful aspects of the debriefing structure. Although emergency clinicians found these sessions to be useful (78.8 +/- 17.6) interquartile range: 73-89), NPPs were less comfortable speaking up (58.5 +/- 23.6) than attending physicians (77.8 +/- 25.0) (p = < 0.008). Emergency clinicians participating in a video-based debriefing program during the coronavirus pandemic found it to be an acceptable and useful approach to support emotional well-being. Our program provided participants with a platform to support each other and maintain a sense of community and connection. Other EDs should consider implementing a debriefing program to safeguard the emotional well-being of their emergency clinician workforce.