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Occupational risks during clinical placement: key stakeholder perceptions

journal contribution
posted on 2020-02-01, 00:00 authored by Jade SheenJade Sheen, E Graj, Amanda DudleyAmanda Dudley, B Wallace, Wendy Sutherland-SmithWendy Sutherland-Smith, Vicki KavadasVicki Kavadas, R M Roberts, M Proeve, S Littler, G I Clark, D A Dunstan
Objective: Clinical placement is an essential aspect of student training in professional postgraduate psychology. However, students can be exposed to risk during clinical placement. Further, anecdotal evidence suggests that barriers may hinder formal reporting of adverse events occurring during placement. The objective of this study was to investigate the incidence and nature of psychology students' exposure to risk during clinical placement. This study also sought to explore key stakeholders' perceptions of risks to students engaging in placement. Method: A sequential explanatory mixed-method design was utilised. The quantitative element of the study involved a questionnaire capturing the experiences of 70 students currently undertaking clinical psychology placement in healthcare services within Australia. This was followed by qualitative semi-structured interviews with 10 industry-based stakeholders associated with clinical placements across seven Australian universities. Results: Preliminary evidence indicates that psychology students can experience adverse events while on clinical placement, and that industry-based stakeholders can also encounter professional risk resulting from student contact. Low uptake of formal incident reports among students was demonstrated. The quality of risk-related training was shown to vary across the industry, indicating a need for streamlined training approaches to risk management. Finally, strategies to support students and supervisors were raised. Conclusions: Novice students may be inadequately prepared for the risks arising in unpredictable clinical placement milieu. They may also be unaware of their rights and avenues for reporting. Further support and resources designed to equip health services and universities for student exposure to risk during placement is warranted.



Australian psychologist






73 - 88


John Wiley & Sons


Chichester, Eng.







Publication classification

C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal