Case: A Second Victim Support Program in Pediatrics: Successes and Challenges to Implementation

Published:February 03, 2018DOI:


      • There is a need to comprehensively evaluate second victim peer-support programs.
      • We examined the RISE program using two surveys and a mixed-method analysis.
      • Adaptive design and interplay with organizational culture contributed to success.
      • Challenges included varied preference for support and overcoming cultural barriers.
      • Organizational culture can be an obstacle and facilitator for RISE-like programs.



      While there is growing attention to making health care safer, there has been less emphasis on helping health care workers to cope with stressful patient related events (these workers are commonly referred to as second victims). We used the RISE (Resilience In Stressful Events) peer support program at the Johns Hopkins Hospital as a case study for evaluating effectiveness, and identifying barriers to addressing the needs of second victims.

      Design and Methods

      The study used a mixed-method approach that included: 1) quantitative analysis of surveys of health care workers in the Department of Pediatrics before RISE implementation and four years after, and 2) content analysis of open-ended commentaries about respondents' experience with seeking second victim support, as well as feedback on RISE.


      Survey response rates were 22.4% and 23.3% respectively. Quantitative analysis showed that respondents at the later time point were more likely to contact an organizational support structure, and had greater awareness of the availability of support. Respondents were very likely (93%) to recommend RISE to others. Content analysis identified barriers to using RISE: overcoming blame culture, need to promote the initiative, and need for more staff time to handle adverse events. Respondents reported varied preferences for the support format and specific support interventions.


      The mixed-method approach allowed a comprehensive evaluation of RISE and provided some evidence for its effectiveness in supporting pediatric health care workers.

      Practice Implications

      The findings suggest an important role of organizational culture in second victim support program implementation and evaluation.


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