Medical professionals are at risk of experiencing high level of stress at work – close to 70 percent report having experienced negative impact of professional stress on mental health or observed this phenomenon in their colleagues. The problem has exacerbated during the COVID-19 pandemic. Wellbeing of medical professionals is crucial not only for themselves, their families, colleagues, hospitals and clinics, but also for everyone - for patients. To help medical professionals who work in hospitals, clinics, emergency rooms, and medical hotlines, cope with stress and take care of their mental health, researchers from SWPS University’s Institute of Psychology have developed Med-Stres and Med-Stres SOS, unique online applications for psychological interventions.

Problem

High-level of professional stress experienced by medical professionals

For doctors, nurses, paramedics, and other medical professionals, who take care of patients, and often fight for their lives, each day at work means going through very difficult and stressful situations. In recent years, a large percentage of medical professions has complained about professional stress and burnout, and about the lack of institutional support in coping with these problems. A lack of professional psychological support for medical professionals causes a decline in the quality of work and potentially disorganizes whole medical establishments – employee engagement suffers, absenteeism increases, and sometimes employees quit. Wellbeing and good mental health of medical professionals impacts not only the quality of medical services provided to patients, but also influences the development of other employees and whole medical institutions.

The COVID-19 pandemic additionally exacerbated the already stressful working conditions of medical professionals. Working at the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic, in a state of constant risk of contracting the disease, experiencing strong emotions, often in long-periods of separation form their loved ones, medical staff may experience psychological break downs and anxiety. Working for the benefit of others, in challenging conditions, it is difficult to take care of oneself and one’s wellness.

Solution

Med-Stres and Med-Stres SOS – online psychological interventions

Med-Stres is a free educational and therapeutic program available online, which helps medical professionals to reduce professional stress and its negative consequences, such as professional burnout and depression.

The program focuses on strengthening one’s internal resources through building confidence in one’s agency and acknowledging that help is available. Med-Stres provides users with information and exercises that strengthen internal resources and decrease the level of stress. This allows them to better cope with stress that is part and parcel of medical professions.

Med-Stres SOS has been developed to help medical professionals in a crisis arising from the coronavirus pandemic. The program has been based on the Med-Stres application. The aim of the Med-Stress SOS program is to help medical professionals cope with additional stress resulting from the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic. During the pandemic, medical personnel has been dealing not only with additional workload in harsher working conditions than usual, but also they have not been able to use traditional forms of psychotherapy.

Why?

We develop groundbreaking solutions, bridging psychology and technology, to responsibly support our community

Med-Stres and Med-Stres SOS are examples of psychological e-health tools, a rapidly growing area of psychological practice and research concerning the application of new technologies in psychology and psychotherapy. Numerous studies conducted in many countries confirm that effectiveness of online and mobile interventions is comparable to the results of traditional forms of therapy. Thanks to professional psychological interventions provided online, more people have access to effective support, available in a simple format, in any place and time that is convenient for the user, while maintaining full confidentiality.

Med-Stres is an initiative of two psychologists from SWPS University, Ewelina Smoktunowicz, Ph.D., and Magdalena Leśnierowska, Ph.D.. It is part of a project conducted by SWPS University’s Faculty of Psychology in Warsaw, which was financed by the National Centre for Research and Development, and coordinated by the Central Institute of Labour Protection – National Research Institute. The Med-Stres SOS version of the application has been financed by SWPS University and by the scholarship awarded to Ewelina Smoktunowicz, Ph.D. in the NAWA Bekker Program, offered by the Polish National Agency for Academic Exchange (NAWA). Both applications have been developed in collaboration with researchers from the Stockholm University and the Linköping University, in Sweden.

ewelina smoktunowicz

Ewelina Smoktunowicz, Ph.D.

is a psychologist. She is the Head of StresLab: the Center for Research on Stress and leads various related projects, including MED-STRES and Med-Stres SOS, aimed at helping medical professionals to cope with work-related stress. She specializes in the development and testing of the efficacy of online psychological interventions, in particular those focused on wellness in organizations. Her research focuses on psychological resources, such as social support and belief in one’s own agency, and the role they play in coping with professional and home stress as well as the pressure caused by expectations related to fulfilling many life roles. She is the Head of StresLab: the Center for Research on Stress at SWPS University’s Institute of Psychology in Warsaw.

Full bio »

Magdalena Leśnierowska

Magdalena Leśnierowska, Ph.D.

is a psychologist and a co-author of online applications Med-Stres and Med-Stres SOS. Her research focuses on developing psychological interventions with the use of new technologies and on testing their effectiveness. She is interested in the role of psychological resources and ways of their strengthening in the process of coping with stress, especially post-traumatic stress resulting from direct and indirect exposure to traumatic events. She works at StresLab: the Center for Research on Stress at SWPS University’s Institute of Psychology in Warsaw.

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med-stres-sos
Med-Stres SOS – Helping Medical Professionals

To help medical professionals cope with exacerbated stress caused by the coronavirus pandemic, psychologists from SWPS University have developed Med-Stres SOS, an online support program.

www.swps.pl/25-lat