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Books, Journals, New Media
August 1, 2001

DebriefingPsychological Debriefing: Theory, Practice and Evidence

Author Affiliations

Harriet S.MeyerMD, Contributing EditorDavid H.MorseMS, Journal Review EditorRobertHoganMD, adviser for new media


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JAMA. 2001;286(5):604-605. doi:10.1001/jama.286.5.604

Psychological debriefing is widely used for trauma survivors and has been suggested to have positive and potentially preventive benefits, including diminished occurrence of future morbidity. In addition there is a pervasive belief, often promoted by commercial interests, that providing debriefing after traumatic incidents will prevent the development of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Indeed, this belief is so common and entrenched in the health care community that organizations that do not offer debriefing for workers exposed to on-the-job trauma may put themselves in medical-legal jeopardy. While these beliefs have remained uncontested for years, recently a growing countervailing view has emerged so that currently advocates and antagonists dispute the role of debriefing in PTSD prevention and treatment. Meanwhile, a burgeoning industry of professional counselors applies debriefing, sometimes indiscriminately, to witnesses and survivors of traumatic events.

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