Background: Child-protection workers are at elevated risk for secondary traumatization. However, research in the area of secondary traumatization has been hampered by two major obstacles: the use of measures that have unclear or inadequate psychometric properties and equivocal findings on the degree of associated functional impairment.
Objective: To assess the relationship between secondary traumatization and burnout using exploratory structural equation modelling (ESEM) and to assess the relationship between secondary traumatization and functional impairment.
Methods: A survey of Danish child-protection workers was conducted through the Danish Children Centres (N = 667). Secondary traumatization was measured using the Professional Quality of Life-5 (ProQoL-5) and burnout using the Oldenburg Burnout Inventory.
Results: A three-factor ESEM model provided the best fit to the data, reflecting factors consistent with the structure of secondary traumatization and burnout. The factors were differentially related to trauma-related and organizational variables in ways consistent with existing evidence. All factors were significantly related to functional impairment.
Conclusion: The findings supported the discriminant validity of secondary traumatization and burnout while highlighting methodological issues around the current use of sum-score approaches to investigating secondary traumatization. The current study supported the clinical relevance of secondary traumatization by linking it explicitly to social and cognitive functional impairment.
- Secondary traumatisation
- child protection
- exploratory structural equation modelling
- discriminant validity
- functional impairment