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Workplace Violence: Vicarious Trauma in the Psychiatric Setting

NCJ Number
Journal of Police Crisis Negotiations Volume: 6 Issue: 2 Dated: 2006 Pages: 79-103
Judy M. Versola-Russo PsyD
Date Published
25 pages
This study examined the effects of the vicarious victims of workplace violence in a psychiatric setting.
Results of four tested hypotheses indicate that both primary and vicarious victims experience similar levels of distress, regardless of their involvement in the violent incident; a negative correlation was found between length of years in service and subjective distress levels; with higher levels of traumatic events experienced, there were lower levels of distress; and debriefing with peers following a violent incident provides the most effective means of coping for both primary and vicarious victims of trauma in the mental health setting. While victims of violence in the psychiatric setting have been the subjects of numerous studies, the effects among mental health workers who were not directly involved in the incident (vicarious victims) have been overlooked. This study attempted to raise awareness of vicarious traumatization. When a violent incident occurs in the workplace, staff members who have witnessed the violence may have strong feelings about it. This study examined the reactions to workplace violence by identifying mental health workers who had experienced a patient-to-staff assault compared with those who had witnessed and assisted another mental health worker involved in a patient-to-staff assault. Participants in the study were drawn from a State psychiatric inpatient facility. Tables, references