A preliminary investigation of vicarious traumatisation among forensic medical examiners of sexual assault

Sarah Rostron, Brett Furlonger

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    Vicarious trauma (VT) is a major concern for those who work with victims of trauma, and Forensic medical examiners (FME) have been identified as a high-risk group for experiencing this condition. In this preliminary study, levels vicarious trauma, secondary traumatic stress, and burnout) were examined in 36 FME. The aims of the study were to 1) to examine the relationship between years of work as an FME and level of VT 2) identify whether working with child victims was more likely to lead to elevated levels of VT than working with adult victims 3) identify whether coping strategies would be related to age and years of experience and finally 4) that VT would have a negative impact on the personal and professional lives of FMEs. The results from four self-report instruments showed no significant relationship between VT and years working as an FME. FMEs who worked with children who had been sexually assaulted did not report increased levels of VT compared to those FMEs who only worked with adult victims and the coping strategies used by FMEs was only moderately related to their age and years of experience. However, participant interviews identified that VT had a negative impact on the personal and professional lives of FME. Implications for professional practice are discussed.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)37-48
    Number of pages12
    JournalThe Journal of Counselling Profession
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 2018

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