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The Efficacy of Critical Incident Debriefing, Term Paper Example

Pages: 5

Words: 1244

Term Paper

Critical Incident Debriefing (CISD), according to Rabstejnek (N.D) is an intuitively appealing and popular means of debriefing and informing military personnel, police officers, firemen, and rescue personnel, after they have been exposed to or involved in what can be classified as traumatic events.

In order to effectively prescribe remedial treatment for individuals that might be potentially affected by mental distress, two medical principles must be adhered to according to Rabstejnek (N.D), by organizational management and human relations specialists. These are (a) adherence to the medical model of assessment, diagnosis, and treatment, and (b) conformance to the dictum that all helpers should do no harm or primcum non nocere.

According to Mitchell (1983), Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM), which is a multiple component of CISD, is a package of crisis intervention tactics that is strategically woven together to, mitigate or reduce the impact of traumatic events, facilitate the normal recovery process in normal people reacting normally to traumatic events, restoring individuals, groups and institutions to their adaptive functions, and to identify beneficiary to these processes or serve as referrals for their evaluations and psychological treatment.

There are however, controversies surrounding the effectiveness of CISD and its parent CISM, according to Barbosa ((2005). Wesley, according to Cannon, Mackenzie &Sims (2003), who is a major supporter of CISD, reports that when facing disasters, most of us must feel the need to do something, and many people who have been debriefed, describe their experience in a positive fashion. Critics on the other hand according to Barbosa (2005), argue that they do not find CISD helpful in preventing psychopathology or even to reduce PTSD.

The efficacy of CISD was strongly supported by its pioneers Everly &Mitchell (1999), as they purported that the experience of 700 CISM teams in more than 40,000 debriefing sessions wherein positive results were reported, cannot be ignored.

In another response to Everly &Mitchell (1999), Cannon, Mitchell &Simms (2009) have found in their investigation that the debriefing sessions identified were not only ineffective, but caused harm by potentiating PTSD symptomology.

Jenkins (1996), perhaps in a drive to seek the balance, objectivity and to establish efficacy, conducted a study among 36 paramedics and emergency technicians who were involved in mass shootings, within 24 hours of the incident and after 3 24 hour shifts as well after thirty days, in an effort to measure the efficacy of CISD.

The researcher conclude that the study showed apparent usefulness for CISD in reducing symptoms of depression and anxiety after one month of the  incident happening, despite the fact the presence of limitations like small sample size, a lack of random assignment , and no ratings for pre-morbid functioning (Jennings,1996).

Leonard & Allison (1999), tested the efficacy of CISD in their analysis of Coping behavior and symptom outcomes among a control and a debriefing group of Australian police officers, which consisted of 30 personnel each, after they were involved in shooting incidents.

The two groups were tested using Coping Scale, the State-Trait Anger Expression Inventory (STAXI) and four scale measuring anger management intervention techniques, and the results, according to Leonard &Allison (1999), showed that there were significant reduction in anger levels and greater use of adaptive coping strategies. This test, despite its low sample size, was exemplary evidence of the efficacy of the CISD, because of the results obtained in a case study conducted by Hytten & Hasle (1989).

In a case that was expected to discredit the efficacy of CISD promulgated by Everly & Mitchell (1999), and one in which the population size was approximately four time larger than that of Jenkins (1986) working sample, 115 professional firefighters and non-professional firefighters were evaluated for stress reactions after they were involved in a large hotel fire in Norway in Septembers 1986 by Hytten &Hasle (1989).

The researchers subjected the responders to a self report questionnaire that inquired into their training, background and the physical strain or stress reactions experienced during the ordeal, three days after the traumatic experience (Hytten & Hasle, 1899).

According to Hytten &Hasle (1989), 39 of the responders attended the Critical Incident Stress Debriefing (CISD) session, and 38 of the 39 reported that the debriefing was helpful to some degree or helpful to a higher degree, while 26 of the same group testified that their self confidence had been restored. Additionally, the remaining officers who had not attended the session but spoke to their colleagues in what could be termed informal debriefing sessions, and were still on the job exerting commitment that were evident before the occurrence of the traumatic experience.

The University of Washington’s embracing of CISD is a strong evidence of its efficacy. This institution reports that it uses the intervention technique in traumatic events like, the death or sickness of co-workers, suicide, violent threatening incidents occurring in work setting, and where natural and made disasters are affecting the workers ability to function (University of Washington, 2007).

Further, the institution offer services in the field through a marketing program in which it emphatically states that professionally conducted debriefings help people cope with and recover from incidents after effects, and enable them to understand that they are not alone in their reactions to distressing situations, but they can be provided with opportunities to discuss their thoughts and feelings in controlled and safe environments (University of Washington, 2007).

Upon close examination of these three cases, as well as the application of the principle in a successful business venture and complementing these with argument purported by Everly & Mitchell, that the experience of 40, 000 debriefings where positive results were obtained cannot be ignored, it could be objectively argued that Critical Incident Stress Debriefing (CISD) is not a waste of time, but an effective intervention technique that has high levels of efficacy associated with it..

However, Everly & Mitchell (1999) should be more open with their work, and facilitate objectivity by allowing independent  parties of scientific researchers and analyst to examine their data, as well as have their research publish in all the major and reputable scientific journals globally. This would allow other sets of analytical eyes to look at the existing empirical data   and report the same conclusions they have arrived at, and as a consequence significantly minimize or even eradicate over a period of time the number of antagonistic research be done with the sole purpose of discrediting a significant work that is undoubtedly  bringing immeasurable benefits to fire fighters, police officers, military personnel, search and rescue workers  and countless private citizens around the world.

 

 

Reference

Barbosa, K. (2005). Critical Incidence Debriefing (CISD): Efficacy in Question, The New School Psychology Bulletin Vol.3 Issue 2

Cannon, M., Mackenzie, K., Simms, A., (2003). Psychological Debriefing is a waste of time British Journal of Psychiatry Vol.183 pp.12-14

Everly, G.S., & Mitchell, J.J., (1999). Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM): A new era and standard care in crisis intervention 2nd edition Chevron Ellicott City, MD

Hytten, K., & Hasle, A., (1989). Firefighter: A study of stress and coping Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica Vol. 55 pp.50-55

Jenkins (S.R., (1996). Social support and debriefing efficacy among emergency medical workers after mass shooting incident Journal of Social Behavior and Personality Vol.11 pp. 477-492

Leonard, R., & Allison, L. (1999). Critical Incident Stress Debriefing and its effect on coping strategies and anger in a sample of Australian police officers involved in shooting incidents Work &Stress Vol.13 pp.144-161

Mitchell, J.T. 2004). Critical Incident Stress Management www.info-trauma.org/ , 01/27/12

Rabstejnek, P.E. (N.D). Evaluating the Efficacy of Critical Incident Stress Debriefing: A look at the evidence www.houd.info/CISD.pdf , 01/26/12

University of Washington (2007) Critical Incident Debriefing Human Resource Policies and Procedures Administration   www.washington.edu/admin/hr/polproc/work-violence/cid.html , 01/27/12

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