The purpose of this study is to examine secondary traumatic stress (STS) and the coping of social workers in inpatient and outpatient settings in a Veterans Affairs healthcare system. A convenience sample of 126 master's level and above social workers completed a survey measuring Secondary Traumatic Stress. Rates of reported secondary traumatic stress symptoms and utilization of coping strategies by social work staff were investigated. Setting was not a significant factor in reported secondary traumatic stress scores. Although female social workers in inpatient settings reported higher rates of stress symptomatology than other social workers across settings, the rates were not found to be statistically significant. Social workers who reported belief in using coping strategies did not report lower scores on the Secondary Traumatic Stress Scale. Social workers who reported increased time spent using organizational coping strategies also did not report lower scores on the Secondary Traumatic Stress Scale. The majority of social workers reported experiencing STS symptoms (59.5%), particularly those who have increased caseloads of clients with trauma (p < .001). Those who reported feeling 'satisfied'– with their work reported lower rates of STS symptomatology, a significant finding (p < .001). Implications for policy development to address some of the organizationally supported factors that lead to STS such as length of exposure and job satisfaction are discussed. Future research should examine individual and organizationally supported factors that contribute to and help mitigate STS in this distinct setting.
Social Policy and Social Research
Social Work and Social Ecology
School of Science and Technology
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Year Degree Awarded
Date (Title Page)
Library of Congress/MESH Subject Headings
Burnout, Professional; Health Personnel -- Psychology; Social Workers; Veterans Affairs -- United States
Subject - Local
Secondary Traumatic Stress, Veterans Affairs Healthcare, Coping Strategies
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Alenkin, Nikola R., "Secondary Traumatic Stress: Social Workers in a Veterans Affairs Healthcare Setting" (2011). Loma Linda University Electronic Theses, Dissertations & Projects. 17.
Loma Linda University Electronic Theses & Dissertations
Loma Linda University. Del E. Webb Memorial Library. University Archives