The psychological health of remote area medics in Iraq

Sarah Whitaker-Howe, Gary Brown, Victoria Williamson, Neil Greenberg

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Remote area medics (RAMs) may be at increased risk of mental health difficulties.
To explore the occupational experiences of RAMs to identify stressors and the mental health impact.
Semi-structured interviews were conducted with six RAMs working in Iraq to gather data, which was explored using interpretative phenomenological analysis.
Three key themes emerged from the data (i) the experience of being remote, (ii) cultural shock and (iii) social support. A number of key stressors were identified, including loneliness and boredom, associated with being remote, and the loss of professional identity due to the occupational role. Three out of the six participants reported substantial depressive symptoms. A number of positive coping strategies were identified, particularly relationships with other RAMs, via instant messaging forums.
RAMs experience a number of particular stressors that could put them at risk of depression. Adaptive coping strategies were identified; in particular, virtual social support. These findings should be of interest to companies which employ RAMs.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)666–671
Number of pages6
JournalOccupational Medicine
Issue number9
Early online date17 Oct 2017
Publication statusPublished - 30 Dec 2017

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