Post-incident psychosocial interventions after a traumatic incident in the workplace: a systematic review of current research evidence and clinical guidance

Jo Billings, Nicholas Zhan Yuen Wong, Helen Nicholls, Peter Burton, Maya Zosmer, Idit Albert, Nick Grey, Sharif El-Leithy, Dominic Murphy, Noreen Tehrani, Jon Wheatley, Michael A.P. Bloomfield, Talya Greene

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Background: After a traumatic incident in the workplace organisations want to provide support for their employees to prevent PTSD. However, what is safe and effective to offer has not yet been established, despite many organisations offering some form of intervention after a traumatic event. Objective: To systematically review the evidence for post-incident psychosocial interventions offered within one month of a workplace trauma, and to compare the content, effectiveness and acceptability of these interventions. Given the lack of a yet clearly established evidence-base in this field, we sought to examine both published empirical research as well as guidelines published by expert groups working with staff in high-risk roles. Methods: We conducted systematic searches for empirical research across bibliographic databases and searched online for clinical practice guidelines to April 2023. We were also referred to potentially relevant literature by experts in workplace trauma. Both empirical research and clinical guidelines were appraised for their quality. Results: A total of 80 research studies and 11 clinical practice guidelines were included in the review. Interventions included Critical Incident Stress Debriefing (CISD), Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM), unspecified Debriefing, Trauma Risk Management (TRiM), Psychological First Aid (PFA), EMDR, CBT and group counselling. Most research and guidance were of poor quality. The findings of this review do not demonstrate any harm caused by CISD, CISM, PFA, TRiM, EMDR, group counselling or CBT interventions when delivered in a workplace setting. However, they do not conclusively demonstrate benefits of these interventions nor do they establish superiority of any specific intervention. Generic debriefing was associated with some negative outcomes. Current clinical guidelines were inconsistent with the current research evidence base. Nevertheless, interventions were generally valued by workers. Conclusions: Better quality research and guidance is urgently needed, including more detailed exploration of the specific aspects of delivery of post-incident interventions.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2281751
JournalEuropean Journal of Psychotraumatology
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2023
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


  • Post-incident interventions
  • clinical guidance
  • psychosocial interventions
  • research evidence
  • systematic review
  • workplace trauma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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