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Invited Critique
Mar 2012

Is There a Role for Peer Support in Times of Emotional Stress?: Is It Enough?Comment on “Physicians' Needs in Coping With Emotional Stressors”

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliations: Department of Surgery, Surgical Education, Vanderbilt Medical Center, Nashville, Tennessee (Dr J. L. Tarpley); and North Park Baptist Church, San Diego, California (Mr J. V. Tarpley).

Arch Surg. 2012;147(3):218. doi:10.1001/archsurg.2011.313

Hu et al1 found that 79% of surgery, anesthesia, and emergency medicine responders in one academic center experienced a serious adverse patient event or traumatic personal event within the preceding year. Several statements leaped out:

The one-to-one peer support described by Hu and colleagues appears promising. The study addresses personal trauma and adverse events. The revised program only describes support for the latter, although the conclusion anticipates expanded outreach. Help “off the record” is a major desire of physicians who have experienced a traumatic event. Questions arise. How are levels of stress stratified? Who will initiate peer support for personal trauma such as substance abuse, marital difficulties, and workplace conflict? While training is key, what are the limits of peer support and what power of referral does the peer mentor have in cases that exceed one's ability to provide care?

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