A qualitative exploration of the experiences of post-mortem forensic imaging in Malta: A psychological perspective

Stuart Camilleri, Katherine Swainston, Fiona MacGregor

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Introduction: This study aimed to qualitatively explore the experiences of post-mortem forensic imaging on theatre and trauma radiographers from a psychological perspective at a general hospital in Malta.

Methodology: The study utilised purposive sampling to recruit five radiographers undertaking forensic post-mortem imaging in a general hospital in Malta. Individual face-to-face semi-structured interviews were held. Interpretative phenomenological principles and reflexivity were applied throughout the
transcription and analysis phases.

Results: Four themes were developed from the interpretive phenomenological analysis of semi-structured interviews: ‘The impact of the imaging process,’ ‘Psychological distancing,’ ‘Finding mean-ing in work,’ and ‘Resource needs,’ the latter comprising three subordinate themes: ‘Protocols,’ ‘Physical resources,’ and ‘Psychological training.’

Conclusion: Forensic radiography is a rewarding area of practice yet one that can be complex and have a lasting psychological impact. Many factors including working close to the cadaver, a lack of appropriate training and staffing levels and a lack of evidence-based protocols were identified by participants as
contributing to potential psychological stress and emotional distress.

Implications for practice: Exploration and evaluation of the psychological experiences of radiographers undertaking post-mortem imaging will inform the development of appropriate psychological services and reinforce the need for the appropriate application of best practice guidelines and protocols to support radiographers working on traumatic cases within forensic and general radiographic practice.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)84-89
Number of pages6
Issue number1
Early online date27 Oct 2022
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2023


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