Secondary traumatic stress in military healthcare providers
Kintzle, Sara Marie
MetadataShow full item record
The purpose of this study was to explore rates of secondary traumatic stress (STS) as well as factors related to symptom development in a sample of 70 military primary and mental healthcare providers. This research also analyzed empathy and emotional separation as moderating variables between the relationship of exposure and STS. Participants completed surveys containing a demographic questionnaire, the Interpersonal Reactivity Index (IRI; Davis, 1983), the Maintenance of Emotional Separation Scale (MES; Corcoran, 1982) and the Secondary Traumatic Stress Scale (STSS; Bride et al., 2004). Demographics analyzed in the study included age, gender, experience, clinical responsibility, and current impact of personal trauma history. Descriptive and frequency statistics as well as t-tests and regression analyses were used to examine data. Results of data analysis found military participants in the sample to be experiencing relatively low rates of STS. Over half of the sample reported endorsing at least one symptom of STS occurring within the last week while eight percent of participants indicated moderate to high symptomatology. Findings also revealed current impact of personal trauma history to be the only demographic significantly related to STS scores. Neither empathy nor emotional separation was found to moderate the relationship between exposure and STS. However, emotional separation had a significant main effect on STS scores. A post hoc regression analysis found three emotional separation (MES) items to be significantly related to STS. These involved losing sight of personal feelings, difficulty concentrating after exposure to client trauma and feeling the worries of the client. The implications of study findings point to the need for education and resources for military professionals in alleviating and preventing symptoms of STS. Findings also suggest emotional separation to be the primary mechanism through which trauma is transferred from the primary to secondary individual. Additional implications and recommendations for future research are outlined.