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Prevalence of Secondary Traumatic Stress among Social Workers

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Social workers are increasingly being called on to assist survivors of childhood abuse, domestic violence, violent crime, disasters, and war and terrorism. It has become increasingly apparent that the psychological effects of traumatic events extend beyond those directly affected. Secondary traumatic stress (STS) is becoming viewed as an occupational hazard of providing direct services to traumatized populations. The purpose of the present study was to investigate the prevalence of STS in a sample of social workers by examining the frequency of individual symptoms; the frequency with which diagnostic criteria for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are met; and the severity of STS levels. Results indicate that social workers engaged in direct practice are highly likely to be secondarily exposed to traumatic events through their work with traumatized populations, many social workers are likely to experience at least some symptoms of STS, and a significant minority may meet the diagnostic criteria for PTSD.
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... Secondary Traumatic Stress Scale-STSS Secondary Traumatic Stress Scale (STSS) [47] [48] is a 17-item questionnaire designed to measure the negative impact of indirect exposure to traumatic events in HCWs caring for suffering or traumatized clients. Respondents are asked to indicate how frequently the item was true for them in the past seven days on a 5-point Likert scale ranging from 1 (never) to 5 (very often). ...
... The STSS global score is calculated by summing up all the item scores, with a higher score indicating a higher frequency of symptoms. The total score ranges from 17 to 85 and is categorized into no/little (17 -28), mild (28 -37), moderate (38 -43), high (44 -48), and severe (49 -85) levels of secondary trauma according to previous literature [47]. ...
... Notes: SMBM: ≥2.75 = mild burnout, ≥3.75 = high burnout and ≥4.40 = clinically relevant burnout. [52]; STSS: The total score ranges from 17 to 85 and is categorized into no/little (17 -28), mild (28 -37), moderate (38 -43), high (44 -48), and severe (49 -85) levels of secondary trauma [47]. a complex reality in which residents show symptoms of both kinds (or of neither). ...
... Workers within occupations that assist trauma victims or survivors, such as those of sexual assault and intimate partner violence (IPV), hear the details of clients' trauma or read through traumatic graphic material on a regular basis (Bride 2007;Weir et al. 2021). This secondary or indirect trauma exposure is a job-related stressor that leads workers to mirror the distress and symptoms of the primary victims (Figley 1995a;Figley et al. 2017). ...
... This study speaks to a growing body of scholarship of the effects of secondary trauma exposure by focusing on secondary traumatic stress symptoms which echo the reactions of primary trauma: intrusive thoughts or feelings of re-experiencing an event, insomnia, fatigue, hyper-vigilance, increased stress response, anxiety, numbness, and depression (Bride 2007;Bride and Kintzle 2011;Cieslak et al. 2014;Owens 2014). Providing services to clients who had experienced IPV exposes advocates, counselors, and justice system professionals to emotional stressors (Kolb 2014;Wasco and Campbell 2002). ...
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... En la Figura 2, se presentan la influencia del uso de redes sociales sobre la salud mental. Los resultados indican que el estrés traumático secundario durante las dos crisis fue similar (Figura 2a; w = 22742; p = 0.991), con valores promedio para COVID-19 (33.7) y Paro Nacional (33.3) dentro de un rango de estrés traumático leve (punto de corte de 28 a 37; Bride, 2007). Los síntomas de ansiedad suscitados por el uso de redes fueron significativamente mayores durante el tiempo de las protestas (Figura 2b; w = 28426; p < 0.001), cuyo promedio de 9.4 estuvo muy cerca de superar el punto de corte de diez para ansiedad generalizada. ...
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