Open Access Research article

Computer-assisted resilience training to prepare healthcare workers for pandemic influenza: a randomized trial of the optimal dose of training

Robert G Maunder12*, William J Lancee12, Reet Mae1, Leslie Vincent13, Nathalie Peladeau13, Mary Agnes Beduz13, Jonathan J Hunter12 and Molyn Leszcz12

Author Affiliations

1 Mount Sinai Hospital, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

2 Department of Psychiatry, University of Toronto, Ontario, Canada

3 Faculty of Nursing, University of Toronto, Ontario, Canada

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BMC Health Services Research 2010, 10:72  doi:10.1186/1472-6963-10-72

Published: 22 March 2010

Abstract

Background

Working in a hospital during an extraordinary infectious disease outbreak can cause significant stress and contribute to healthcare workers choosing to reduce patient contact. Psychological training of healthcare workers prior to an influenza pandemic may reduce stress-related absenteeism, however, established training methods that change behavior and attitudes are too resource-intensive for widespread use. This study tests the feasibility and effectiveness of a less expensive alternative - an interactive, computer-assisted training course designed to build resilience to the stresses of working during a pandemic.

Methods

A "dose-finding" study compared pre-post changes in three different durations of training. We measured variables that are likely to mediate stress-responses in a pandemic before and after training: confidence in support and training, pandemic-related self-efficacy, coping style and interpersonal problems.

Results

158 hospital workers took the course and were randomly assigned to the short (7 sessions, median cumulative duration 111 minutes), medium (12 sessions, 158 minutes) or long (17 sessions, 223 minutes) version. Using an intention-to-treat analysis, the course was associated with significant improvements in confidence in support and training, pandemic self-efficacy and interpersonal problems. Participants who under-utilized coping via problem-solving or seeking support or over-utilized escape-avoidance experienced improved coping. Comparison of doses showed improved interpersonal problems in the medium and long course but not in the short course. There was a trend towards higher drop-out rates with longer duration of training.

Conclusions

Computer-assisted resilience training in healthcare workers appears to be of significant benefit and merits further study under pandemic conditions. Comparing three "doses" of the course suggested that the medium course was optimal.