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Psychological First Aid

A Model for Disaster Psychosocial Support for the Perinatal Population

Giarratano, Gloria PhD, APRN, CNS, RNC-OB, FAAN; Bernard, Marirose L. MN, RN; Orlando, Susan DNS, APRN, NNP-BC, CNS

The Journal of Perinatal & Neonatal Nursing: July/September 2019 - Volume 33 - Issue 3 - p 219–228
doi: 10.1097/JPN.0000000000000419
Feature Articles

The psychosocial needs of childbearing families drastically change after a disaster. Perinatal nurses providing postdisaster maternal-newborn care at community shelters, field hospitals, or acute care facilities must be prepared as “first responders” to address the immediate psychological distress and social needs of women and families in the first few chaotic days or weeks. The purpose of this article is to demonstrate ways nurses can integrate psychosocial and interpersonal interventions in perinatal disaster care using the framework of Psychological First Aid (PFA) developed by a team of mental health experts, along with The National Child Traumatic Stress Network and the United States (US) National Center for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The PFA framework offers evidence-informed stepwise approaches nurses can employ within their scope of practice aimed at reducing disaster survivors' initial distress and to promote short- and long-term adaptive functioning. Purposive interactions are suggested to provide emotional support, empathy, and guidance to reduce stress, restore coping skills, and help families use their strengths to begin the recovery process. Nurse leaders engaged in hospital disaster planning need to ensure that essential resources and community networks are available to provide mental health and psychosocial support for childbearing women and families in a postdisaster environment.

Louisiana State University Health School of Nursing, New Orleans.

Corresponding Author: Gloria Giarratano, PhD, APRN, CNS, RNC-OB, FAAN, Louisiana State University Health School of Nurisng, 1900 Gravier St, New Orleans, LA 70112 (

Disclosure: The authors have disclosed that they have no significant relationships with, or financial interest in, any commercial companies pertaining to this article.

Each author has indicated that he or she has met the journal's requirements for Authorship.

Submitted for publication: February 9, 2019; accepted for publication: April 17, 2019.

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