“WHAT IS WORSE THAN DEATH?”: EXPERIENCE OF CRITICAL EVENTS AMONG PHYSICIANS

Dalia Antinienė, Žydrūnė Kaklauskaitė

Abstract


Background. It is noticeable that doctors’ avoidant behavior while dealing with emotional consequences of
critical  events  not  only  lowers  physician’s  quality  of  sleep  (Kahn,  Sheppes,  &  Sadeh,  2013),  brings  them  less
satisfaction with the results of their work (Gleichgerrcht & Decety, 2013), but also worsens medical care as they
provide poorer services related to the patient (Austin Saylor, & Finley, 2017; Meier, Back, & Morrison, 2001). The
lack of scientific publications shows that this topic is underresearched and relevant. The purpose of the study is to
reveal physicians’ experience of critical events.
Methods. Five practicing physicians of anesthesiology-reanimatology and surgery participated in the qualitative
part of the research. The data was collected using semi-structured interview and processed using inductive thematic
Braun & Clarke (2006) analysis.
Results. Qualitative analysis revealed the complicated experiences in a physician’s workplace, which doctors
described as: taking responsibilities in the presence of a patient’s death, the risk of burnout and negative emotions
experienced after a critical event. The analysis also emerged techniques used in dealing with emotions after critical
events and consequences of the latter in one’s personal life.
Conclusions. The study revealed that physicians in their work environment come across difficulties such as
risk of burnout, balancing between formal and informal communication with patients and emotional strain which is
caused by facing a patient’s death. Doctors tend to cope with negative emotions that emerge during critical events
using various methods, but the most elucidated technique was the avoidance to deal with emotions. Analysis also
revealed that experiences, gained through medics’ work, modify their attitude towards life and death and change the
emotional connection between a physician and his relatives.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.33607/bjshs.v4i111.672

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