12.10.2018 change 12.10.2018

Med-Stres: Aid for stressed doctors and nurses

Psychologists at the SWPS University are working on the "Med-Stres" project - an online training and therapy program for health professionals. They invite doctors, nurses and paramedics to test the program. Registration starts on October 8.

Health care workers are exposed to high levels of stress. As many as 70 percent of them have experienced its negative effects in the form of emotional and health complaints personally, or observed them in people in their professional environment, the SWPS University representatives inform in a release.

Meanwhile, the well-being of people performing medical professions is important not only for themselves, their colleagues and families, but also for patients. Psychologists from the SWPS University of Social Sciences and Humanities have developed the project "Med-Stres: Online Stress Prevention Program for Medical Staff" to support this professional group in coping with stress at work and counteract its negative consequences, such as depression and burnout.

"Med-Stres" is a training and therapy program that will function on a special internet platform. It will only be available online. Users will be able to access it from any place and at any time. The program consists of a series of interactive exercises created based on the latest psychological knowledge and using cognitive-behavioural techniques that are often employed in online psychological interventions.

Researchers intend to choose the most effective of several possible variants of the program, which will differ in the type of psychological resources being strengthened or the order of the exercises, and consequently the duration - respectively 3 or 6 weeks.

"We invite representatives of medical professions such as doctors, nurses and paramedics to participate in the study. Participants will be randomly divided into four groups corresponding to the four variants of the program" - explains Dr. Ewelina Smoktunowicz, psychologist at SWPS University and Med-Stres project leader quoted in the release.

Assignment to one of the variants will be random. In addition to using the program itself, participation in the study involves filling in psychological questionnaires designed to measure the level of occupational stress. The participants will be asked to complete them four times: before the start of the program, just after its completion, as well as 6 and 12 months from its commencement. Their answers will allow the researchers to verify the long-term effectiveness of the exercises and choose the optimal variant. The most effective of the tested variants will be made available to institutions related to medical care in order to prevent and reduce occupational stress among staff.

Regardless of the variant, access to the Med-Stres program is free. Registration for the program starts on October 8. To join, participants simply register at medstres.pl. They only have to provide an e-mail address, to which information on available new exercises will be sent every week. Before registering, it is necessary to read the procedure and give consent to participate. All details can be found on the registration page.

Psychologists use new technologies for professional psychological help in an increasing number of areas. Currently, thanks to online interactions, it is possible to build self-confidence in patients in a difficult life situation, facilitate coping with stress at work and support people suffering from depression, anxiety disorders, panic attacks or nutrition problems. According to the SWPS University specialists, the effectiveness of online interventions is so high that in some countries, for example the Netherlands and Great Britain, online psychological help, in the form of both prophylaxis and therapy, is reimbursed from the state budget. It is recommended as equivalent to traditional methods.

"Thanks to the online psychological interactions, more people have access to effective assistance, often at lower costs, and moreover at a convenient place and time. This is of key importance especially for professional groups with a significant workload" - says Dr. Ewelina Smoktunowicz.

The program was developed with the participation of both experienced therapists and world leading researchers in the field of e-health, as a result of cooperation of the SWPS University, the Linköping University and the Stockholm University. The project is coordinated by the Central Institute for Labour Protection - National Research Institute. It is financed by the National Centre for Research and Development.

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