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The psychosocial response to a terrorist attack at Manchester Arena, 2017: a process evaluation

Hind, Daniel and Allsopp, Kate and Chitsabesan, Prathiba and French, Paul (2021) The psychosocial response to a terrorist attack at Manchester Arena, 2017: a process evaluation. BMC Psychology, 9 (1).

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Abstract

Background A 2017 terrorist attack in Manchester, UK, affected large numbers of adults and young people. During the response phase (first seven weeks), a multi-sector collaborative co-ordinated a decentralised response. In the subsequent recovery phase they implemented a centralised assertive outreach programme, ‘The Resilience Hub’, to screen and refer those affected. We present a process evaluation conducted after 1 year. Methods Case study, involving a logic modelling approach, aggregate routine data, and semi-structured interviews topic guides based on the Inter-Agency Collaboration Framework and May’s Normalisation Process Theory. Leaders from health, education and voluntary sectors (n = 21) and frontline Resilience Hub workers (n = 6) were sampled for maximum variation or theoretically, then consented and interviewed. Framework analysis of transcripts was undertaken by two researchers. Results Devolved government, a collaborative culture, and existing clinical networks meant that, in the response phase, a collaboration was quickly established between health and education. All but one leader evaluated the response positively, although they were not involved in pre-disaster statutory planning. However, despite overwhelming positive feedback there were clear difficulties. (1) Some voluntary sector colleagues felt that it took some time for them to be involved. (2) Other VCSE organisations were accused of inappropriate, harmful use of early intervention. (3) The health sector were accused of overlooking those below the threshold for clinical treatment. (4) There was a perception that there were barriers to information sharing across organisations, which was particularly evident in relation to attempts to outreach to first responders and other professionals who may have been affected by the incident. (5) Hub workers encountered barriers to referring people who live outside of Greater Manchester. After 1 year of the recovery phase, 877 children and young people and 2375 adults had completed screening via the Resilience Hub, 79% of whom lived outside Greater Manchester. Conclusions The psychosocial response to terrorist attacks and other contingencies should be planned and practiced before the event, including reviews of communications, protocols, data sharing procedures and workforce capacity. Further research is needed to understand how the health and voluntary sectors can best collaborate in the wake of future incidents.

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