Stress debriefing and patterns of recovery following a natural disaster
Stress debriefing has been used extensively following traumatic events; however, there is little evidence of its effectiveness. This paper reports the effects of stress debriefing on the rate of recovery of 195 helpers (e.g., emergency service personnel and disaster workers) following an earthquake in Newcastle, Australia (62 debriefed helpers and 133 who were not debriefed). Post-trauma stress reactions (Impact of Event Scale) and general psychological morbidity (General Health Questionnaire: GHQ-12) were assessed on four occasions over the first 2 years postearthquake. There was no evidence of an improved rate of recovery among those helpers who were debriefed, even when level of exposure and helping-related stress were taken into account. More rigorous investigation of the effectiveness of stress debriefing and its role in posttrauma recovery is urgently required.