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Conséquences du suicide d'un client sur les professionnels de l'action socio-sanitaire: impact individuel, répercussions sur les pratiques professionnelles et modalités de gestion.

English title Aftereffects of a patient's suicide on professionals of the social-medical field: personal impact, consequences on professional practice and coping strategies.
Applicant Castelli Dransart Dolores Angela
Number 109845
Funding scheme DORE project funding
Research institution Haute école fribourgeoise de travail social HES-SO
Institution of higher education University of Applied Sciences and Arts Western Switzerland - HES-SO
Main discipline Social work
Start/End 01.10.2005 - 31.05.2007
Approved amount 185'927.00
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Keywords (10)

suicide; suicide impact; patient suicide; client suicide; coping strategies; social worker; mental health caregiver; client; personal impact; professional impact

Lay Summary (English)

Lay summary
This study was designed to investigate the personal and professional impact of patient/client suicide on caregivers and social workers and to identify resources and strategies for dealing with such an event.
The research was conducted in two phases. In the first one, a questionnaire was sent to all social and medical institutions working with persons at risk in two Swiss cantons - Fribourg and Vaud - in order to identify those who had experienced a client suicide during the five years preceding the survey. In the second phase, a self-administered questionnaire based on several reliable and validated scales largely discussed in the recent literature was sent to 1336 physicians and psychiatrists, nurses, social workers and social educators liable to have experienced such an event. Out of 448 respondents who completed the questionnaire, 314 have actually been confronted with a client suicide and constitute the final sample of this study.
The results of this research suggest that client suicide can have multiple consequences on a personal as well as on a professional and institutional level. On the personal level, the emotional impact on professionals seems to be globally moderate, except for a minority (n=78). The most important reactions are shock, helplessness and sadness. Among the reactions of stress, intrusion symptoms seem to be higher than avoidance and hyperarousal symptoms. Emotional attachment to the client, lack of sufficient support from colleagues and supervisors, as well as the lack of professional support, responsibility for the client and professionals’ age (30-39) were significant predictors.
The suicide has also a persistent impact on caregivers’ and social workers’ professional practice. Respondents reported increasing their focus on suicide cues and feeling more anxious to work with clients at risk. Professional’ gender (women), emotional attachment to the client and the suicide’s place (institution or neighborhood) play a major role on professional practice. Respondents also reported increasing interest towards the phenomenon of suicide, increasing tendency to hospitalize suicidal clients, becoming more likely to consult colleagues and supervisors and increasing attention to legal matters of their work. Finally, ¾ of professionals assert having received enough professional and personal support to deal with the event.
Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 21.02.2013

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Associated projects

Number Title Start Funding scheme
120560 Les professionnels de l'action socio-sanitaire en institution ou cabinet privé face au suicide d'un client/patient: impact individuel, répercussions sur les pratiques professionnelles et modalités de gestion 01.05.2008 DORE project funding