Paediatric health-care professionals: Relationships between psychological distress, resilience and coping skills

Document Type

Journal Article




Faculty of Health, Engineering and Science


School of Exercise and Health Sciences




This article was originally published as: Mcgarry, S. A., Girdler, S. J., McDonald, A., Valentine, J., Lee, S., Blair, E., Wood, F., & Elliott, C. (2013). Paediatric health-care professionals: Relationships between psychological distress, resilience and coping skills. Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health, 49(9), 725-732. Original article available here


Aim To investigate the impact of regular exposure to paediatric medical trauma on multidisciplinary teams in a paediatric hospital and the relationships between psychological distress, resilience and coping skills. Method Symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, secondary traumatic stress, depression, anxiety, stress, burnout, compassion satisfaction, resilience and coping skills were measured in 54 health professionals and compared with published norms. Results Participants experienced more symptoms of secondary traumatic stress (P < 0.01), showed less resilience (P = 0.05) and compassion satisfaction (≥0.01), more use of optimism and sharing as coping strategies, and less use of dealing with the problem and non-productive coping strategies than comparative groups. Non-productive coping was associated with more secondary traumatic stress (r = 0.50, P = 0.05), burnout (r = 0.45, P = 0.01), post-traumatic stress disorder (r = 0.41, P = 0.05), anxiety (r = 0.42, P = 0.05), depression (r = 0.54, P = 0.01), and stress (r = 0.52, P = 0.01) and resilience was positively associated with optimism (r = 0.48, P = 0.01). Health professionals <25 years old used more non-productive coping strategies (P = 0.05), less 'sharing as a coping strategy' (P = 0.05) and tended to have more symptoms of depression (P = 0.06). Conclusion Paediatric medical trauma can adversely affect a health professional's well-being, particularly those <25 years of age who make less use of positive coping strategies and more use of non-productive coping. These findings will assist the development of effective and meaningful interventions for health professionals working in paediatric hospitals.