Studies on the second victim phenomenon and other related topics in the pan-European environment: The experience of ERNST Consortium members

Irene Carrillo, Susanna Tella, Reinhard Strametz, Kris Vanhaecht, Massimiliano Panella, Sofia Guerra-Paiva, Bojana Knezevic, Marius Ionut Ungureanu, Einav Srulovici, Sandra Buttigieg, Paulo Sousa, Jose Mira

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Patient safety is a priority worldwide. When things go wrong in the provision of patient care, the healthcare professionals involved can be psychologically affected (second victims, SVs). Recently, different initiatives have been launched to address this phenomenon. Aim: To identify through the ERNST Pan-European Consortium the current study lines in Europe on SVs and other topics related to how the lack of well-being of healthcare professionals can affect the quality of care. Methods: A cross-sectional study was conducted based on an ad hoc online survey. All 82 academics and clinicians who had formalized their membership to the COST Action 19113 by September 2020 and represented 27 European and one neighboring country were invited to participate. The survey consisted of 19 questions that explored the participants’ scientific profile, their interests, and previous experiences in the SVs’ topic, and related areas of work in Europe. Results: Seventy (85.4%) COST Action members responded to the survey. Thirty-seven (37.1%) had conducted SV studies in the past or were doing so at the moment of the survey. Seventeen participants were involved in implementing interventions to support SVs. Future lines of study included legal issues, open disclosure, training programs, and patient safety curricula. Conclusions: Studies have been conducted in Europe on the magnitude of the SV phenomenon and the usefulness of some techniques to promote resilience among healthcare professionals. New gaps have been identified. The COST Action 19113 aims to foster European collaboration to reinforce the healthcare professionals’ well-being and thus contribute to patient safety.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)59-65
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Patient Safety and Risk Management
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2022.


  • adverse events
  • europe
  • patient safety
  • resilience
  • second victims
  • stressful events

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Leadership and Management
  • Health(social science)
  • Health Policy


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