Assessing the impact of workshops promoting concepts of psychosocial support for emergency events

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BACKGROUND Psychosocial support is a widely accepted term referring to activities designed to promote social and psychological recovery in disasters, and is a crucial concept in the organisation and management of preparedness, response and recovery systems. The New Zealand Ministry of Health recognised the importance of a common framework of understanding this concept, and commissioned a series of workshops to promote the understanding and implementation of psychosocial support concepts in disasters. METHODS Two hundred and eighty-eight people participated in 9 educational workshops across New Zealand – before the recent Canterbury earthquakes – designed to educate people about the key concepts and delivery models of psychosocial support during and after emergency events. Participants were also asked to note down three key ideas concerning what psychosocial support meant to them both before and after participating in the workshop. FINDINGS The level of satisfaction reported both for the workshop presentations (4.5 out of 5) and the resources provided (4.6 out of 5) suggested that participants were highly engaged with the presented material, and that this may be a useful training resource tool for education about psychosocial support in emergency events. Although the general concepts of support and recovery remained important both before and after the workshops, there was a shift to expressing attitudes acknowledging the importance of the management and organisation of psychosocial support activities. CONCLUSIONS Overall, the findings suggest that participants’ attitudes about psychosocial support in disasters changed after attending the workshop, from a consideration of the experience of the individual in a disaster to more structured ideas about how supportive interventions might be organised and implemented. Although care should be taken to reinforce the core actions of psychosocial support for practitioners, the workshops seem to offer a promising approach for developing cross-agency understanding on managing psychosocial support interventions. Citation: Johal S. Assessing the Impact Of Workshops Promoting Concepts of Psychosocial Support for Emergency Events. PLOS Currents Disasters. 2012 Sep 17. doi: 10.1371/4fd80324dd362.
PLoS Curr, 2012, 4 pp. e4fd80324dd362 - ?