Hull York Medical School research uncovers impact of PTSD on paediatric doctors

23 October 2017
PTSD story resized

Hull York Medical School postgraduate student Dr Michael Griksaitis pioneers new research into the psychology of paediatric trainees

New research into the psychology of paediatric trainees indicates that doctors who witness the death of a child may suffer from symptoms indicative of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Led by Consultant Paediatric Intensivist and Hull York Medical School postgraduate student Dr Michael Griksaitis, the research was conducted as part of the Health Professions Education MSc programme, and published online by BMJ Journals.

Discussing the findings, Dr Griksaitis said: 'My research initially started with the aim to assess the confidence of junior doctors from all specialities in the resuscitation of critically ill and injured children. It quickly became apparent the issue was the psychological impact the doctor experienced when resuscitation attempts were stopped, and the child died, rather than their skill set. The focus of the research then turned to establish the significance of child death on the paediatric junior doctor.

We started considering all UK paediatric junior doctors, and the findings were significant; 81 per cent of paediatric junior doctors had one or more symptoms from the post-traumatic stress diagnostic criteria after experiencing the death of a child. In total, 14 per cent of the doctors included in the study (of a total of 303) met full criteria to be diagnosed with potentially an acute stress reaction or post-traumatic stress disorder.

The data was initially presented as a poster at the national Paediatric Intensive Care Society (PICS) conference in 2016, and then as an oral presentation at the Royal College of Paediatrics & Child Health (RCPCH) conference earlier this year, winning the award for best oral presentation in the General Paediatric category. Dr Griksaitis continued:

The Health Professions Education MSc at Hull York Medical School facilitated a multi-centre collaboration, and provided suitable research skills and training to allow the work to be carried out efficiently and effectively. Without the MSc programme it is unlikely we would have been able to do this; it opened many doors, and provided opportunities to build contacts, present work at significant conferences and develop skills in publication.

The data has now been published online ahead of print, and Dr Griksaitis and his team are in the process of expanding the research to study junior doctors from anaesthesia and emergency medicine. Reference: Hollingsworth CE, Wesley C, Huckridge J, Finn GM, Griksaitis MJ. Impact of Child Death on Paediatric Trainees Arch Dis Child; Aug 2017 Epub Ahead of Print DOI: 10.1136/archdischild-2017-313544.


Dr Griksaitis can be found on Twitter @MJGriksaitis