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Health care workers worldwide are at an increased risk of a range of adverse mental health outcomes, including posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), following the unprecedented demand placed upon them during the COVID-19 pandemic. Psychosocial interventions offered to mitigate these risks should be based on the best available evidence; however, limited information regarding the comparative effectiveness of interventions is available. We undertook a systematic review of psychosocial interventions delivered to health care workers before, during, and after disasters. Eight databases were searched, including the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, PubMed/MEDLINE, EMBASE, and PsycINFO. Our primary outcomes were changes in symptoms of PTSD, anxiety, depression, and sleep. We calculated effect sizes, where unreported, and reliable change indices to appraise intervention effectiveness. The study was registered with PROSPERO (CRD42020182774). In total, 12,198 papers were screened, 14 of which were included in the present review. Interventions based on evidence-based protocols, including individual and group-based cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) for PTSD, anxiety, and depression were found to lead to reliable changes in PTSD and anxiety symptoms. Single-session debriefing and psychological first aid workshops showed limited efficacy. There is limited evidence on psychosocial interventions for health care workers faced with disasters, with the strongest evidence base for CBT-based approaches. Future research should include controlled evaluations of interventions and aim to target identified risk factors.

Original publication




Journal article


J Trauma Stress

Publication Date