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Impact of caring for patients with severe and complex disabilities on health care workers’ quality of life: determinants and specificities

Rousseau M.C., Baumstarck K., Leroy T., Khaldi-Cherif C., Brisse C., Boyer L., Resseguier N., Morando C., Billette De Villemeur T., Auquier P.

Dev Med Child Neurol 2017, 59(7):732-737. doi: 10.1111/dmcn.13428. Epub 2017 Apr 22.


Aim: Individuals with severe and complex disabilities, defined by a combination of profound intellectual impairment and serious motor deficit resulting in extreme dependence, often remain in hospital or at residential facilities. The aim of this study was to identify the determinants of quality of life (QoL) of 238 health care workers (HCWs) caring for individuals with severe and complex disabilities.

Method: We conducted a cross-sectional study. The recruitment of the HCWs was performed in five French centres specializing in patients with severe and complex disabilities. The selection criteria were age above 18 years, being an institutional referent HCW (a resource person coordinating various issues for or about the patient), and agreeing to participate. Sociodemographic, health, professional variables, and psycho-behavioural (QoL, burn-out, and coping strategies) data were collected.

Results: Of the 362 eligible HCWs, 65.7% returned the questionnaires. The scores of the physical and social dimensions of QoL were significantly lower, and the score of the psychological dimension significantly higher, than those of a comparison group. The main factors modulating QoL were age, financial difficulties, nature of coping strategy, and burn-out.

Interpretation: This research provides preliminary evidence that caring for patients with severe and complex disabilities affects the QoL of HCWs. These results support the need for optimization of the work environments for HCWs.