Dealing with Adverse Events: A Meta-analysis on Second Victims' Coping Strategies

Isolde M. Busch, Francesca Moretti, Marianna Purgato, Corrado Barbui, Albert W. Wu, Michela Rimondini

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Objectives Despite the critical need to understand the diverse responses by second victims to adverse events, there has not been a meta-analysis examining coping by second victims. We aimed to analyze the coping strategies applied by second victims in the aftermath of adverse events. Methods We performed a systematic search of nine electronic databases up to October 2018 and screened additional sources, such as gray databases. Two independent reviewers conducted the search, selection process, quality appraisal, data extraction, and synthesis. In case of dissent, a third reviewer was involved to reach consensus. Quantitative studies of the frequency with which coping strategies were applied by second victims were eligible for inclusion. We calculated the overall frequency of coping strategies and I2 statistic using random effects modeling. Results Of 10,705 records retrieved, 111 full-text articles were assessed for eligibility and 14 studies eventually included. The five most frequent coping strategies were Changing work attitude (89%, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 80-94), Following policies and guidelines more accurately and closely (89%, 95% CI = 54-98), Paying more attention to detail (89%, 95% CI = 78-94) (task oriented), Problem-solving/concrete action plan (77%, 95% CI = 59-89) (task oriented), and Criticizing or lecturing oneself (74%, 95% CI = 47-90) (emotion oriented). Conclusions Second victims frequently used task-and emotion-oriented coping strategies and, to a lesser degree, avoidance-oriented strategies. To better support second victims and ensure patient safety, coping strategies should be evaluated considering the positive and negative effects on the clinician's personal and professional well-being, relationships with patients, and the quality and safety of healthcare.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)E51-E60
JournalJournal of patient safety
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1 2020


  • adverse event
  • coping
  • human factors
  • mental health
  • risk management
  • second victim

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Leadership and Management
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


Dive into the research topics of 'Dealing with Adverse Events: A Meta-analysis on Second Victims' Coping Strategies'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this