Secondary Traumatization in Mental Health Professionals: A Systematic Review of Gender Findings

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The issue of gender is largely ignored in studies of secondary traumatization (STS). This article addresses the question of gender differences in susceptibility to STS among clinicians who treat traumatized clients. It does so by systematically reviewing the very limited body of published findings on this subject to date. These are 10 published studies that measure STS by post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptomatology and 4 studies that measure it using Stamm’s Professionals Quality of Life Survey (ProQOL), which queries PTSD symptomatology along with other difficulties that may arise in helping traumatized clients. Almost all the studies based on PTSD symptomatology show greater female susceptibility. Although the pattern is less clear in the ProQOL studies, the article argues that the research to date does not really show mixed findings, as is repeatedly claimed, but greater susceptibility among female clinicians. It also points out that the findings do not mean that male clinicians are unaffected by their traumatized clients and notes the various manifestations of their distress reported in the reviewed studies. The article offers a variety of explanations for the heightened female susceptibility.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)221-235
Number of pages15
JournalTrauma, Violence, and Abuse
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2015

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015, © The Author(s) 2015.


  • IES
  • ProQOL
  • gender differences
  • secondary traumatization
  • systematic review


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