De-stressing from Distress: Preliminary Evaluation of a Nurse-Led Brief Debriefing Program

Elizabeth Holbert, Cheryl Dellasega

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


In critical care units, distressing events related to patient and family-centered care can influence job dissatisfaction and emotional distress.1-8 Strategies for processing difficult incidents are limited, creating a need for standardized real-time debriefing tools. This study evaluated an innovative nurse-led program that was developed and piloted in one acute care unit of a large academic medical center. An evidence-based practice nurse-led debriefing process provided a sequential process for facilitation of an interdisciplinary group after the occurrence of a distressing event. Throughout a 2-year period, 104 real-time debriefings (>380 staff participation) took place. Emergent situations precipitated the most debriefings followed by disruptive patient/family behavior. Over 80% of the participants affirmed the debriefing process was beneficial, assisted them in coping with the traumatic event, and recommended this type of debriefing to others. These results show that members of an interdisciplinary team will engage in a brief (∼10 minute) nurse-led debriefing program when offered the opportunity to do so, and that this intervention was successful beyond the acute care unit where it originated.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)230-234
Number of pages5
JournalCritical Care Nursing Quarterly
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Critical Care


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