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The contribution of organisational factors to vicarious trauma in mental health professionals: a systematic review and narrative synthesis

Sutton, L; Rowe, S; Hammerton, G; Billings, J; (2022) The contribution of organisational factors to vicarious trauma in mental health professionals: a systematic review and narrative synthesis. European Journal of Psychotraumatology , 13 (1) , Article 2022278. 10.1080/20008198.2021.2022278. Green open access

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Abstract

Background: The negative impact of trauma work has been well documented in mental health professionals. There are three main phenomena used to describe these effects: Secondary Traumatic Stress (STS), Vicarious Trauma (VT) and Compassion Fatigue (CF). To date, the majority of research has focused on the contribution of individual level factors. However, it is imperative to also understand the role of organizational factors. Objectives: This review examines the role of organizational factors in ameliorating or preventing STS, VT, and CF in mental health professionals. We further aimed to identify specific elements of these factors which are perceived to be beneficial and/or detrimental in mitigating against the effects of STS, VT, and CF. Method: Studies were identified by searching the electronic databases Medline, PsycINFO, Embase, Web of Science and SCOPUS with final searches taking place on 10 March 2021. Results: Twenty-three quantitative studies, eight qualitative studies, and five mixed methods studies were included in the final review. A narrative synthesis was conducted to analyse the findings. The results of the review highlight the importance of regular supervision within supportive supervisory relationships, strong peer support networks, and balanced and diverse caseloads. The value of having an organizational culture which acknowledges and validates the existence of STS was also imperative. Conclusions: Organizations have an ethical responsibility to support the mental health professionals they employ and provide a supportive environment which protects them against STS. This review provides preliminary evidence for the types of support that should be offered and highlights the gaps in the literature and where future research should be directed. Further research is needed to evaluate which strategies–and under what conditions–best ameliorate and prevent STS.

Type: Article
Title: The contribution of organisational factors to vicarious trauma in mental health professionals: a systematic review and narrative synthesis
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1080/20008198.2021.2022278
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1080/20008198.2021.2022278
Language: English
Additional information: This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/), which permits unrestricted non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Division of Psychiatry
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10143587
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