Being a first responder involves facing a wide variety of stressful situations that could affect health and well-being. Peer support appears as a beneficial strategy to deal with work-related stress. Despite this support approach have been implemented in a variety of contexts, these interventions must to be adapted to specific needs. In this sense, the aim of this study was to explore, from a first responders' perspective, what they think about peer support and how it can be put into practice
The authors interviewed in-depth 14 first responders of Portuguese Red Cross branches from the north of Portugal. Data was analyzed according to Thematic Analysis procedures.
The authors found two main themes: (1) a valuable, sustainable and ongoing support and (2) overcome barriers and rooted resistances. Participants highlighted the importance of peer support along the Red Cross path, and as daily routine. Moreover, they considered that peers should have some personal characteristics, skills and training in order to provide support to colleagues more effectively. Additionally, they made suggestions to overcome some anticipated barriers.
By considering mental health and well-being of workers, a priority and by being developed based on international recommendations and professionals testimonies, peer support appears as a valuable tool possible to be implemented and able to tailor the emergency branches' needs.
This is the first qualitative study about the first responder's perceptions of peer support.
Funding: This study was co-funded by national funding from the Foundation for Science and Technology – FCT (Portuguese Ministry of Science, Technology and Higher Education), by the Regional Development Fund (ERDF), European Social Fund (ESF), Portugal 2020 and European Structural and Investment Funds, through the Regional Operational Programme Norte (Norte 2020), under the project POCI-01-0145-FEDER-031898; and by the Operational Programme Competitiveness and Internationalization (COMPETE 2020), Portugal 2020, European Regional Development Fund, under the Unidade de Investigação em Epidemiologia - Instituto de Saúde Pública da Universidade do Porto (EPIUnit) (POCI-01-045-FEDER-016867; Ref. FCT UID/DTP/04750/2019). This study was also partially conducted at Psychology Research Centre (PSI/01662), University of Minho, and supported by the Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology and the Portuguese Ministry of Science, Technology and Higher Education through national funds, and co-financed by FEDER through COMPETE2020 under the PT2020 Partnership Agreement (POCI-01-0145-FEDER-007653).We thank all the participants interviewed for their time and contribution.
Oliveira, A., Teixeira, F., Neto, F. and Maia, Â. (2021), "Peer support in prehospital emergency: the first responders' point of view", International Journal of Emergency Services, Vol. 10 No. 1, pp. 131-146. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJES-07-2020-0035
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