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Timoleon Chaliamalias, Theodoula Αdamakidou

Friday, July 1, 2022

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Pages: 225-235

DOI: 10.5281/zenodo.7771368


Introduction: Empathy and compassion have a significant role in the humanitarian action. In a humanitarian mission, a healthcare professional operates in an unstable and changing environment under demanding working conditions. Purpose: The purpose of this review was to describe the humanitarian sector as a working place for the medical professionals. Additionally, the mental health consequences of the humanitarian field workers are recorded and analyzed. Methodology: Research articles about the secondary traumatic stress and moral distress, which affect medical humanitarian workers were researched. The search was performed in the international databases PubMed, Scopus and Google Scholar, using keywords that served the purpose of the literature review. Results: The members of a humanitarian team have to practice their professional duties in different fields, whilst they face many practical difficulties during their daily life. These facts expose the health professionals to physical and mental health risks. The constant exposure of humanitarian field workers to situations of intense stress and anxiety seems to lead to conditions such as compassion fatigue, secondary traumatic stress, empathy stress and moral distress, which are associated with a reduction in their professional performance, the development of mental health disorders and physical health problems and finally their early departure from the specific field of work. At the same time, emotions such as compassion satisfaction, increased job satisfaction combined with the willingness of professionals to moderate the human pain, seem to act as their motivators for continuing working in the humanitarian field. Conclusions: The empowerment of the medical humanitarian field workers’ mental health remains one of the main objective of the humanitarian organizations, as their support is crucial for the improvement of the provided services.

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