Brondolo, E., Kaur, A., Brondolo, T. J., Schwartz, J. E., & Delahanty, D. L.
Development of a web-based scalable intervention to reduce mental health risks in medical examiner personnel
This paper describes the development of a scalable intervention to reduce risk for depression and posttraumatic stress among medical examiner employees. Medical examiners identify the deceased, determine the cause and manner of death, and communicate this information to various stakeholders including law enforcement, public health authorities, and families of victims. Basic research has revealed that aspects of their job responsibilities, including working on disturbing cases and interacting with highly distressed families of the deceased, are associated with symptoms of depression and posttraumatic stress, and these relationships are partly mediated by concerns about alienation and distress intolerance. However, employees do not receive systematic training in the skills needed to manage the emotional labor demands associated with work responsibilities. To address these unmet needs, a pilot study was conducted to develop a scalable, web-based intervention to decrease symptoms of depression and posttraumatic distress. The intervention consisted of self-paced programed intervention modules based on empirically validated treatments including psychoeducation, social modeling, values affirmation, exposure, and skills training tailored to the specific job demands of medical examiners. The program was delivered to personnel in nine offices in six states. Consumer satisfaction data indicate that participants found the intervention, including the exercises, clear and useful. Overall, 53% of the employees who consented to participate enrolled in at least one class and half of them completed eight or more of 16 classes. The program is feasible to administer in the workplace and shows preliminary evidence of efficacy. Employees demonstrated a reduction in depressive symptoms over time.
Testing, Psychometrics, Methodology in Applied Psychology, 2017, Vol. 24, No. 3, pp. 409-421, DOI: 10.4473/TPM24.3.7Back