April 20, 2023

Peer-support groups can help reduce HCW stress, burnout

By: Judy Mathias

Editor's Note

This pilot study from the Indiana University School of Medicine finds that peer-support groups can be beneficial in reducing healthcare worker (HCW) stress and burnout.

A total of 24 emergency department physicians participated in the study. The researchers evaluated the effects of 8 weeks of virtual, group-based peer support on distress, depression, and burnout symptoms during COVID-19.

Among the findings:

  • Participant receptivity to the intervention was high and most said they would recommend peer-support groups to a friend or colleague.
  • Positive small effects on symptoms of depression, anxiety, and distress (eg, guilt) suggest promising signs of preliminary effectiveness.
  • Reported benefits include learning from others, enjoying social interaction, feeling supported by others, and processing thoughts and feelings.

The findings suggest that peer support can provide physicians and other HCWs a space of psychological safety to talk about challenges without the need to fix their problems or suppress their emotions, the researchers note.

Live chat by BoldChat