Professional caregivers: stress and coping in the face of loss and trauma
Professional caregivers who work with the trauma and suffering of others, such as doctors, nurses and psychologists, may face significant challenges along with the risk of adverse, long-term mental and physical health problems. Caregivers with responsibility for dependants outside their professional work reported more stress. This finding is of particular relevance in respect of caregivers in underdeveloped countries such as Zimbabwe, where many households have taken in additional children who have been orphaned, whose parents are ill, or whose parents have temporarily gone elsewhere in search of work. For the purposes of the study, a qualitative phenomenological research design was selected as appropriate to the focus on human experience. An interpretative approach was adopted to explore and explicate the lived experiences of the participants and the meaning they attached to them. The major sources of stress for professional caregivers emerged as being resource constraints, interpersonal issues, and personal issues. Factors found to promote coping include the caregiver’s meaning making perspective, making a difference, and constructing a sense of personal control.