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Title: Coping with the role of being a remote area medic in a high threat area
Author: Whittaker, Sarah
Awarding Body: University of London
Current Institution: Royal Holloway, University of London
Date of Award: 2013
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Research has well established the role of social support in coping with stressful and traumatic events, but has yet to examine how individuals cope with such events when social support is not available. In order to examine this question, research needed to indentify a naturally occurring, isolated group, who are exposed to stressful and traumatic events. The relatively recent expansion of remote medicine provided this opportunity. Remote Area Medics (RAM) are an occupational group who work autonomously to provide medical services in remote sites and thus their experiences include both professional and social isolation. In addition, RAMs share commonalities with paramedics and groups deployed to high threat areas, which suggests they could be exposed to similar experiences that are known to increase risk of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and common mental health difficulties. Therefore RAMs provided this study the opportunity to explore how individuals cope with stressful and traumatic events when social support is not available. In addition, the inference that RAMs are at increased risk of PTSD and common mental health difficulties has yet to be researched, and therefore this study also explored the stressors and psychological impact associated with working as a RAM. The lived experiences of six RAMs working in Iraq were explored by conducting interviews and analysed using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis. Three master themes emerged: the experience of, and coping with being remote; a different medic in a different culture; and the need to be heard, understood and validated. The analyses revealed a number of stressors unique to remote medicine and evidence that RAM could be at increased risk of depression. The study highlights the concept of virtual support as a way of coping with stressful and traumatic events when social support is no available. The concept and potential wider application of virtual support is discussed.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (D.Clin.Psy.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available