Buddy Care, a Peer-to-Peer Intervention: A Pilot Quality Improvement Project to Decrease Occupational Stress Among an Overseas Military Population.
Occupational stress can have a direct influence on worker safety and health. Navy medical professionals are known to neglect self-care, putting them at risk for deteriorations in psychological health that can lead to adverse patient outcomes. To support medical professionals, a peer-to-peer intervention called Buddy Care, embedded in Navy Medicine's Caregiver Occupational Stress Control (CgOSC) program, was evaluated. Strategies to prevent and better manage occupational stress are vital to improve the health care providers' abilities to cope with day-to-day stressors, which is crucial to maintaining mission readiness. The overarching aim of this quality improvement pilot project was to implement and evaluate Buddy Care and to provide context as an evidenced-based peer intervention and leadership tool at a military hospital in Guam. This project is the first to implement and evaluate Buddy Care intervention for an active duty U.S. Navy population stationed overseas.
Materials and methods
A convenience sample of 40 Navy active duty assigned to three inpatient units were offered Buddy Care intervention, which was introduced by conducting a Unit Assessment. A pre-test and 3- and 6-month post-test intervention design used a self-administered, 79-item CgOSC Staff Wellness Questionnaire which included five validated measures to assess the independent variable: (1) Response to Stressful Experience Scale, (2) Perception of Safety, (3) Horizontal Cohesion, (4) Perceived Stress Scale, and (5) Burnout Measure, short version. This project was determined as exempt by the Department of Navy Human Research Protection Program and did not require further review by the Institutional Review Board.
Of the 40 questionnaires collected, 39 were partially completed. Paired sample t-tests were conducted between designated time-points to maximize the sample size and retain the repeated measures nature of the outcome variables. The small sample size allowed for statistical comparisons; however no statistically significant differences were found across the time-points. There was a large effect size for Perceptions of Safety and a medium effect size for Burnout Measure from baseline to 3 months, with both lowered at the 6 months. Although the sample size was too small to achieve statistical significance, the effect size analysis suggested that significance might be obtained with a larger sample.
The small number of participants and missing data significantly limited the ability to identify reliable changes across time-points. Despite the lack of statistically significant findings, there was an unintended positive result. The Unit Assessment piqued the interest of other departments, and during the project period, 11 departments requested a Unit Assessment. Although there were no requests for Buddy Care intervention from the targeted sample, it was occurring an average of 40 times per month throughout the command. Replication of this project in a similar setting is encouraged so that Buddy Care can be further evaluated. Understanding the effectiveness of well-mental health programs that promote early intervention and prevention efforts may contribute to a psychologically tougher medically ready force. Shortly after project completion, a CgOSC Instruction was approved by the Navy Surgeon General, highlighting the importance of CgOSC and Buddy Care on the operational readiness of Navy Medicine.
Villaruz Fisak, JF; Turner, BS; Shepard, K; Convoy, SP
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