The impact of COVID-19 and experiences of secondary traumatic stress and burnout

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5 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVE: This study examines the relationships between multiple COVID-19 related stressors and experiences of secondary traumatic stress (STS) and burnout (BO).

METHOD: This sample (N = 550) of professionals and caregivers from a foster care system in the United States completed an online survey regarding their experiences of COVID-19 related stress in multiple domains (disruptions in routines, income/employment, food access, medical/mental health care access, access to social support, worries about COVID, family conflict/violence, and COVID diagnoses). The survey also included established measures of STS and BO.

RESULTS: A subset of COVID-19 stressors was found to account for 27.4% of the variance in STS and 24.7% of the variance in BO scores in regression analyses. Significant correlates for STS included worries about COVID, family conflict/violence and food access, while only worries about COVID and family conflict/violence were significant in the model testing BO. Part of the sample (N = 64) had participated in a related 2019 study of STS and BO and were included in comparison analyses of these conditions before and during the COVID-19 pandemic. Results for T1 and T2 comparisons yielded significant increases in STS related symptoms of intrusion and alterations in cognitions and mood, with differences in total STS scores trending toward significance. No significant differences were found in BO scores.

CONCLUSIONS: These findings and associated implications are discussed for groups of caregivers and helping professionals with preexisting high levels of indirect trauma exposure in a pandemic context. This study provides some guidance on how to identify those at risk for increased distress in their helping roles and considerations for implementing support strategies during a pandemic. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2022 APA, all rights reserved).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)507-515
Number of pages9
JournalPsychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2022


  • Secondary Traumatic Stress
  • COVID-19
  • Compassion Fatigue
  • Pandemics


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