Prevention of psychological trauma among health care providers during the COVID-19 pandemic

UMMS Affiliation

Department of Family Medicine and Community Health; Center for Integrated Primary Care

Publication Date


Document Type



Behavioral Medicine | Family Medicine | Health and Medical Administration | Health Services Administration | Health Services Research | Infectious Disease | Mental and Social Health | Psychiatry and Psychology | Virus Diseases


The COVID-19 pandemic presented unique biological, psychological, and social threats to health care providers. The failure of local macrosystems placed providers at elevated risk of psychological and physical harm. To reduce the immediate risk of trauma to our local physician workforce, our team initiated a program of proactive psychological first aid in which physicians were regularly contacted by behavioral health colleagues to assess safety conditions and physician's well-being. When threats to the physician's safety were identified, these concerns were escalated to leadership and addressed when possible. When threats to well-being were identified, behavioral health team members provided supportive listening, and, if indicated, provided referral information for appropriate treatment resources. This paper reviews the rationale for this program, addresses ethical concerns, and proposes future directions for responding to threats to safety during events such as the COVID-19 pandemic.


COVID-19 pandemic, burnout, prevention, psychological first aid, systems theory, trauma

DOI of Published Version



Mullin DJ, Pearson S, Eisdorfer E, Mullarkey J, Dykhouse E. Prevention of psychological trauma among health care providers during the COVID-19 pandemic. Fam Syst Health. 2021 Sep;39(3):518-525. doi: 10.1037/fsh0000646. PMID: 34807648.

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Families, systems and health : the journal of collaborative family healthcare

Related Resources

View article in PubMed

PubMed ID