Coping with grief in health care professionals. Posttraumatic consequences and risk of burn out - Perinatal death, and stillbirth in particular, is a profoundly distressing event, able to disrupt the psychological balance of mothers, fathers and families, sometimes associated with long-term psychological disturbances. The assistance to perinatal loss can be an extremely stressful event for the care-giver too, who is very often unskilled in coping with such a tragic and unexpected termination of pregnancy. Some reports highlighted that parents perceive the lack of psychological assistance as an adjunctive trauma and many studies evaluated the role of caregivers in determining the quality of grieving process. The non-lucrative charity organization CiaoLapo ONLUS was founded to promote research and assistance on stillbirth and perinatal death in Italy, with the aim of providing a psychological assistance to grieving parents after perinatal death and to help caregivers to better understand what bereaved parents need and hot to improve assistance, in order to reduce psychological distress. Here we report results of a preliminary investigation on the impact of stillbirth experiences on 60 care-givers and 100 midwives with particular regard to the effect of stressful professional experiences (measured by means of the Impact of Event Scale - IES) in the development of a burn-out syndrome (measured by means of the Maslach Burn-Out Inventory - MBI). Both the levels of event impact and professional burnout scales were significantly higher in midwives, compared with other healthcare professionals. According to these results, midwives are more easily exposed to the psychological impact of a stillbirth experience, compared with other healthcare professionals involved in the management of perinatal death.
Keywords: Perinatal Loss; Grief; Midwives; Trauma; Burn-out.