Working in a war zone. The impact on humanitarian health workers

Aust Fam Physician. 2003 Sep;32(9):679-81.


Background: The work challenges faced by doctors, nurses and other health professionals in the humanitarian field are overwhelming.

Objective: This article highlights the psychological effects on humanitarian workers and the support available, both while on a 'mission' and on return home.

Discussion: It is impossible not to be psychologically affected by witnessing gross acts of violence, starvation, epidemics, displacement and despair, or hearing tales of slaughter, rape and killing. Just as those populations who are subjected to traumatic experiences develop post-traumatic psychological problems, so too can those humanitarian workers who assist them.

MeSH terms

  • Afghanistan
  • Altruism*
  • Health Personnel / psychology*
  • Humans
  • International Agencies*
  • Medical Missions
  • Social Support
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic
  • Volunteers / psychology*
  • Warfare*