Background: The Covid-19 pandemic has produced unprecedented challenges across all aspects of health and social care sectors globally. Nurses and healthcare workers in care homes have been particularly impacted due to rapid and dramatic changes to their job roles, workloads, and working environments, and residents’ multimorbidity. Developed by the World Health Organisation, Psychological First Aid (PFA) is a brief training course delivering social, emotional, supportive, and pragmatic support that can reduce the initial distress after disaster and foster future adaptive functioning. 

Objectives: This review aimed to synthesise findings from studies exploring the usefulness of PFA for the well-being of nursing and residential care home staff. 

Methods: A systematic search was conducted across 15 databases (Social Care Online, Kings Fund Library, Prospero, Dynamed, BMJ Best Practice, SIGN, NICE, Ovid, Proquest, Campbell Library, Clinical Trials, Web of Knowledge, Scopus, Ebsco CINAHL, and Cochrane Library), identifying peer-reviewed articles published in English language from database inception to 20th June 2021. 

Results: Of the 1,159 articles screened, 1,146 were excluded at title and abstract; the remaining 13 articles were screened at full text, all of which were then excluded. 

Conclusion: This review highlights that empirical evidence of the impact of PFA on the well-being of nursing and residential care home staff is absent. PFA has likely been recommended to healthcare staff during the Covid-19 pandemic. The lack of evidence found here reinforces the urgent need to conduct studies which evaluates the outcomes of PFA particularly in the care home staff population.


This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article's Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver (http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/) applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated in a credit line to the data.

Cite as

Schoultz, M., McGrogan, C., Beattie, M., Macaden, L., Carolan, C., Polson, R. & Dickens, G. 2022, 'Psychological first aid for workers in care and nursing homes: Systematic review', BMC Nursing, 21, article no: 96. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12912-022-00866-6

Downloadable citations

Download HTML citationHTML Download BIB citationBIB Download RIS citationRIS
Last updated: 27 October 2022
Was this page helpful?