How do we support NHS Doctors who become the second victim?

We could and should be doing so much more!


My doctoral research sets out to explore and discover more about the levels of support offered to UK NHS doctors and physicians following an adverse event or medical error where the doctor has experienced psychological suffering or distress.

To date, it has involved generating a research proposal and undertaking a systematic literature review (SLR) into second victim phenomenon.

I presented these findings as part of a symposium at the British Psychological Society’s Division of Occupational Psychology Conference on 12th January 2018 and has been submitted for consideration by a medical journal. Click here to see more details

The SLR found that the body of the research is in the US with only a handful of studies in the UK.  These UK studies are cross-sectional, multidisciplinary studies with the exception of one quantitative study has been published solely with and about Doctors (Harrison et al, 2014).

What I believe we are missing is the rich stories of affected UK NHS Doctors.  These need to be heard, understood and lessons learned about the support that is necessary to help doctors thrive post-event and continue to serve patients and service users professionally.

My Study

I am looking to interview NHS Doctors who have experienced second victim phenomenon after an adverse event.

The interview would last approximately 1 hour and take place preferably at a convenient location to you. I will travel to you but you may need to find us some private space to talk.  In exceptional cases, we could do the interview over Skype.

All data will be treated in strictest confidence. All personal details will be anonymised and no biographical data with the exception of gender and broad specialty and stage of career will be published.

My work is supervised and I am duty bound by the British Psychological Society Code of Conduct of Conduct & Ethics see here and the Ethical code for research at Kingston University.

The interview will be taped and take a ‘Semi-structured format’ with key questions asking you to share your story.  It will probe 4 main areas:

– How do NHS Doctors seek support following an adverse event?

– From whom do NHS Doctors seek support?

– How does medical culture impact NHS Doctors following an adverse event?

– What positive support measure are utilised by NHS Doctors following an adverse  event?

Interviews will be transcribed for analysis with all identifiable data removed.  Data will be analysed using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (Smith, 1994).

Signed informed consent will be requested and you would be free to withdraw at any time.

Would you be willing to participate?

If you are happy with the information provided above and willing to participate, please contact me to arrange and date and time when the interview can take place.

Donna Willis or

Mobile: 07712 161449

Thank you for taking the time to consider this study and if not you, please do pass it on to someone who might benefit from talking.



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