Stress, coping and psychological well-being amongst healthcare professionals employed within forensic inpatient settings
Although forensic services are often regarded as stressful, dangerous and emotionally demanding environments, there has been a surprising lack of research into the phenomena of stress amongst forensic healthcare professionals, especially in the UK. There is mounting evidence to suggest that burnout influences a significant proportion of forensic healthcare professionals and can result in a range of detrimental consequences for the individual, their organization and clients. The small body of research evidence that has examined burnout amongst forensic healthcare professionals is reviewed. Methodological limitations are explored and questions regarding the generalisability and rigor of the available research findings are raised. The research study investigated stress, coping and psychological well-being amongst 135 forensic healthcare professionals employed within four Medium Secure Units in the UK. Background information and measures of psychological well-being, burnout, occupational stress, work satisfaction and coping were collected using a postal survey. The results showed that a substantial proportion of forensic healthcare professionals experienced markedly elevated levels of occupational stress and psychological distress, whilst moderate levels of burnout and a range of problem-focused, emotionfocused and palliative coping strategies were demonstrated. Contributions to theory, research and clinical practice are discussed. The strengths and limitations of the research study are further examined. Future research directions and potential implications for clinical practice are explored. Personal motivations and practical difficulties encountered during the research process are finally presented.