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More than words: sharing research and resources on grief and PTSD for parents and healthcare professionals

28 February, 2024

The ALEC Team recently discovered we had a prize winning videographer in our midst and wanted to find out more. It was revealed that before joining us, Research Fellow and Evidence Officer Dr Shannon Barnes had taken out first prize in the University of Adelaide’s Visualise Your Thesis competition with ‘The world is caving in: parental trauma after intensive care’. We now feel very fortunate that Shannon has agreed to use her amazing skills to help us explain living evidence to a broader audience in a new series of ALEC explainer videos covering guidelines, flagship projects like LEAPP and consumer involvement across all of ALEC’s work programs. Here she explains why we often need more than words…

‘Sharing my findings and information through videos has been an amazing experience,’ Shannon says. ‘My first foray into this medium was inspired by my own experience as a paediatric nurse and the studies I’ve explored in my research that look at grief and post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). From the feedback I’ve received and the endorsement from the competition, I know they’ve really resonated with people.’ Shannon explains.

‘From a clinical perspective, I knew from my ten years working as a paediatric nurse in hospital wards that health professionals are witness to and experience a lot of grief. I didn’t realise it would never be specifically addressed in training or support programs at any time. Healthcare professionals all over the world absorb the grief of their patients suffering and dying, and the sorrow for many of the family members and carers we also work with. It’s a super human expectation that people can work continuously in these environments without support and understanding that the emotional toll is a significant one and needs to be processed.’

‘I wanted to look at the evidence in this area, but struggled to find any research on common approaches to supporting health professionals in this context. I wanted to synthesise research of the best way of assessing and treating health professionals, but there’s just not enough evidence out there. There are a few studies on burnout and depression, but nothing much on grief and health professionals. You could say my video was one way to reach out to everyone experiencing it to say you’re not alone. It’s difficult to put into words, but through images and music you can really convey a shared sense of loss and grief. I hope to draw attention to this evidence gap as I think it’s such an important one.’

‘More broadly, as a qualitative researcher I believe in words, audio, music and imagery being used to tell a story and spark conversations. I’ve turned my attention to using these skills to share more about how living evidence and consumer input can make a difference in healthcare, so stay tuned for a series of videos later this year. While the focus is different, the aim to inspire better healthcare for all remains the same.’

Keep an eye out for a series of explainer videos later in the year on ALEC, living evidence, the LEAPP project and consumer involvement in guidelines.

Thanks Shannon!