Intrusive memories of work-related trauma in emergency room personnel: implications for intervention

Judith Laposa has conducted the first study to demonstrate a higher prevalence of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) among emergency department staff than in the general public. Her research also shows these symptoms sometimes interfere with job performance. Previous studies have focused on victims of trauma, and not those who routinely deal with horrifying events as part of their jobs. Following a life-threatening event, people with PTSD experience ongoing anxiety and intrusive images of the trauma. Judith is studying the onset and interpretation of trauma memories in emergency staff at several hospitals in Greater Vancouver. This study will examine risk factors for negatively interpreting trauma memories, such as other negative life experiences, a propensity toward negativity, and conflict at work. The results will help identify how to decrease the prevalence of post-traumatic stress among emergency staff, which will help improve the quality of emergency health care.