Testing a Model of Functional Impairment in Telephone Crisis Support Workers
Background: It is well known that helping professionals experience functional impairment related to elevated symptoms of psychological distress as a result of frequent empathic engagement with distressed others. Whether telephone crisis support workers are impacted in a similar way is not currently reported in the literature. Aims: The purpose of this study was to test a hypothesized model of factors contributing to functional impairment in telephone crisis support workers. Method: A national sample of 210 telephone crisis support workers completed an online survey including measures of emotion regulation, symptoms of general psychological distress and suicidal ideation, intentions to seek help for symptoms, and functional impairment. Structural equation modeling was used to test the fit of the data to the hypothesized model. Results: Goodness-of-fit indices were adequate and supported the interactive effects of emotion regulation, general psychological distress, suicidal ideation, and intentions to seek help for ideation on functional impairment. Conclusion: These results warrant the deliberate management of telephone crisis support workers' impairment through service selection, training, supervision, and professional development strategies. Future research replicating and extending this model will further inform the modification and/or development of strategies to optimize telephone crisis support workers' well-being and delivery of support to callers.