Numerous descriptive as well as prospective studies have indicated that mortuary workers, body handlers, and those tasked to work with human remains are at risk for symptoms related to post-traumatic stress disorder and other psychological sequelae. There have been no controlled studies outlining psychological interventions to prevent or minimize the impact of being assigned to perform such duties. In this article, we describe a method of psychological intervention with mortuary workers mobilized as a result of the September 11 attack on the Pentagon. The intervention included the use of Critical Incident Stress Teams and was based on a behavioral health consultant model that has been demonstrated to be effective for behavioral interventions in primary care settings. The model incorporated knowledge from previous studies on mortuary workers and individuals tasked to work with human remains. Qualitative analysis indicated that the behavioral health consultants were well received, recommendations were implemented, and few personnel were removed from duty as a result of psychological factors leading to impaired performance. Implications related to popular models of critical incident intervention and directions for future controlled research are discussed.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health