Wednesday, September 14, 2022

Health Care Workers More Open to Therapy After Watching Short Video About Its Benefits

Despite being at higher risk of anxiety and depression than the public, health care workers are often reluctant to seek mental health care. A report published Tuesday in Psychiatric Services suggests that watching a short video about the benefits of therapy for COVID-19–related anxiety and depression may reduce treatment-related stigma and encourage more health care workers to seek help.

“Educators, employers, and employee assistance programs should consider using such easily administered interventions to proactively encourage health care workers to seek help and should provide mental health treatment resources to those who need them,” wrote Doron Amsalem, M.D., of the New York State Psychiatric Institute and colleagues.

For the study, Amsalem and colleagues recruited English-speaking, U.S. health care workers (including nurses, physicians, health administrators, and mental health professionals) between the ages of 18 and 80 years using a crowdsourcing tool called Prolific. After completing a baseline assessment, which included questions about intention to seek treatment and stigma related to treatment, 1,402 participants were randomly assigned to one of two intervention groups or the control group:

  • Participants in the intervention group watched a three-minute video during which a young female nurse (presented by either a White or Black actress using an identical script) described her struggles with the COVID-19 pandemic and how therapy helped her to cope with COVID-19–related stress and anxiety.
  • Participants in the control group watched a three-minute nature video.

After watching the video, all participants completed treatment-seeking and stigma-related assessments, which asked them to rank how much they agreed with such statements as “I might want to have psychological counseling in the future” and “It would make me feel inferior to ask a therapist for help.” Fourteen days after first watching their assigned video, half of the participants in each intervention group were assigned to rewatch the same video. Whether assigned to rewatch a video or not, all participants completed treatment-seeking and stigma-related assessments again at the 14-day follow-up as well as at day 30. Participants were also asked if they had ever sought psychological counseling.

Both intervention videos elicited an immediate increase in treatment-seeking intention in the intervention groups, the authors reported, with larger effects among those who had never sought treatment. The increased effects were not sustained 14 days after the initial video or at 30-day follow-up, and there was no significant difference between those participants who had watched the intervention video once versus those who had watched it twice.

The “three-minute online video effectively increased immediate treatment-seeking intention and reduced treatment-related stigma, albeit without lasting effects, especially among health care workers who had never sought treatment,” Amsalem and colleagues concluded. “Future studies should examine whether these brief interventions, when linked to referrals, can foster immediate behavioral change.”

For related information, see the Psychiatric News Alert Residency Directors Should Encourage, Support Personal Psychotherapy as Part of Training.”

(Image: iStock/kentarus)

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