Secondary Traumatic Stress: Prevalence in Humanitarian Aid Workers in India

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Background: Humanitarian aid workers (HAWs) who aid traumatized populations experience emotional, cognitive, and physical consequences. This study documents the extent of secondary traumatic stress (STS) in a group of HAWs in Gujarat, India. Method: A standardized 17-item self-report questionnaire, the STS Scale, evaluated STS symptoms and severity in workers belonging to humanitarian organizations that provided psychosocial aid to traumatized people in India. Results: All the HAWs (N = 76) reported STS as a consequence of their work; 8% met criteria for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). HAWs of lower socioeconomic status (SES) (p < .001) reported higher trauma scores compared with those of higher SES. Conclusion: Substantial STS exists among HAWs 5 months after widespread mass violence. To bolster resilience appropriately, preventive measures must focus on the prevalent types of traumatic stress in HAWs.

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