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Transformative Narratives: The Impact of Working With War and Torture Survivors

Kjellenberg, Elin; Nilsson, Frida; Daukantaité, Daiva LU and Cardeña, Etzel LU (2014) In Psychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy 6(2). p.120-128
Abstract
There is growing interest in how helpers working with severely traumatized individuals are affected by

their work. A sample of 69 persons working with war and torture survivors across specialized centers

throughout Sweden filled out questionnaires evaluating negative (i.e., compassion fatigue—composed of

secondary traumatic stress [STS] and burnout—depersonalization, and impairment of functioning) and

positive (posttraumatic growth [PTG], compassion satisfaction) reactions related to working with trauma

survivors. We also measured attitudes toward human evil and death, demographics, history of trauma,

and exposure to trauma narratives in hours per week and years of practice. Compassion... (More)
There is growing interest in how helpers working with severely traumatized individuals are affected by

their work. A sample of 69 persons working with war and torture survivors across specialized centers

throughout Sweden filled out questionnaires evaluating negative (i.e., compassion fatigue—composed of

secondary traumatic stress [STS] and burnout—depersonalization, and impairment of functioning) and

positive (posttraumatic growth [PTG], compassion satisfaction) reactions related to working with trauma

survivors. We also measured attitudes toward human evil and death, demographics, history of trauma,

and exposure to trauma narratives in hours per week and years of practice. Compassion satisfaction

correlated negatively with most negative posttraumatic reactions. PTG was associated with STS,

depersonalization, and impairment in functioning. Negative reactions to trauma work correlated with

each other. Regression analyses showed that compassion satisfaction was negatively correlated with fear

of death and age, whereas compassion fatigue correlated positively with fear of and resignation towards

human evil (EVIL); the latter also predicted burnout and STS. STS also correlated with years in the field.

Depersonalization correlated positively with EVIL and negatively with fear of death, whereas impairment

of functioning correlated positively with years in the field and EVIL and negatively with fear of death.

The more years in the field, the more people reported PTG. A majority of respondents stated that their

attitude toward evil had changed because of their work. It is important to consider existential issues,

especially human evil, when evaluating the effect of working with trauma. (Less)
Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:
author
organization
publishing date
type
Contribution to journal
publication status
published
subject
keywords
secondary traumatic stress, compassion fatigue, posttraumatic growth, evil, refugees
in
Psychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy
volume
6
issue
2
pages
120 - 128
publisher
Educational Publishing Foundation-American Psychological Assoc
external identifiers
  • wos:000333094800003
  • scopus:84898948243
ISSN
1942-9681
DOI
10.1037/a0031966
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
87dfb7fe-03e2-431f-a480-08e93583ff6e (old id 4392163)
date added to LUP
2014-04-10 10:55:42
date last changed
2017-04-09 03:04:07
@article{87dfb7fe-03e2-431f-a480-08e93583ff6e,
  abstract     = {There is growing interest in how helpers working with severely traumatized individuals are affected by<br/><br>
their work. A sample of 69 persons working with war and torture survivors across specialized centers<br/><br>
throughout Sweden filled out questionnaires evaluating negative (i.e., compassion fatigue—composed of<br/><br>
secondary traumatic stress [STS] and burnout—depersonalization, and impairment of functioning) and<br/><br>
positive (posttraumatic growth [PTG], compassion satisfaction) reactions related to working with trauma<br/><br>
survivors. We also measured attitudes toward human evil and death, demographics, history of trauma,<br/><br>
and exposure to trauma narratives in hours per week and years of practice. Compassion satisfaction<br/><br>
correlated negatively with most negative posttraumatic reactions. PTG was associated with STS,<br/><br>
depersonalization, and impairment in functioning. Negative reactions to trauma work correlated with<br/><br>
each other. Regression analyses showed that compassion satisfaction was negatively correlated with fear<br/><br>
of death and age, whereas compassion fatigue correlated positively with fear of and resignation towards<br/><br>
human evil (EVIL); the latter also predicted burnout and STS. STS also correlated with years in the field.<br/><br>
Depersonalization correlated positively with EVIL and negatively with fear of death, whereas impairment<br/><br>
of functioning correlated positively with years in the field and EVIL and negatively with fear of death.<br/><br>
The more years in the field, the more people reported PTG. A majority of respondents stated that their<br/><br>
attitude toward evil had changed because of their work. It is important to consider existential issues,<br/><br>
especially human evil, when evaluating the effect of working with trauma.},
  author       = {Kjellenberg, Elin and Nilsson, Frida and Daukantaité, Daiva and Cardeña, Etzel},
  issn         = {1942-9681},
  keyword      = {secondary traumatic stress,compassion fatigue,posttraumatic growth,evil,refugees},
  language     = {eng},
  number       = {2},
  pages        = {120--128},
  publisher    = {Educational Publishing Foundation-American Psychological Assoc},
  series       = {Psychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy},
  title        = {Transformative Narratives: The Impact of Working With War and Torture Survivors},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/a0031966},
  volume       = {6},
  year         = {2014},
}