Evaluation of system based Psychological First Aid training on the mental health proficiency of emergency medical first responders to natural disasters in China: a cluster randomised controlled trial

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Objective To evaluate the effectiveness of a system based psychological first aid (PFA) training programme for emergency medical first responders in China.
Design Parallel group, assessor-blinded, cluster randomised controlled trial.
Setting Forty-two clusters of health workers from various health facilities in China.
Participants 1399 health workers who provide emergency service for survivors of disasters.
Interventions One-day system based PFA training programme (PFA) or training as usual (TAU).
Primary and secondary outcome measures The primary outcome was the PFA Skills, Knowledge and Attitude (SKA-PFA) score at two months post intervention. Secondary outcomes included posttraumatic growth, self-efficacy, and professional quality of life.
Results The intervention group (n=690) had significantly higher SKA-PFA scores than the control group (n=709) at two months post intervention (adjusted mean difference=4.44; 95% CI 1.17 to 7.52; p=0.007; Cohen’s d=0.35). The intervention group also had higher scores on posttraumatic growth (p=0.113, d=0.24), self-efficacy (p=0.032, d=0.20), and professional quality of life (p=0.281, d=0.04).
Conclusions The system based PFA training programme was more effective than the training as usual in enhancing the PFA knowledge, skills, and proficiency of the frontline emergency medical first responders, and in increasing their competence to provide emergency service for survivors in China.
Trial registration number ChiCTR2200060464.
Keywords System based training programme, emergency medical first responders, randomised controlled trial, psychological first aid
Original languageEnglish
JournalBMJ Open
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 26 Mar 2024

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