Vicarious trauma among nurses working in addiction services and the role of leadership: a European mixed methods study

Wednesday, 23 November, 2022 - 15:00 to 16:30


Vicarious trauma (VT) has been researched for over two decades, but its potential impact on nurses who work in addiction services is still unclear. VT is a major negative consequence of working with traumatized patients. Nurses who work in addiction services are highly vulnerable to experience VT, given that these patients have experienced traumatic events in the past. Organisational factors such as leadership may influence VT among employees and therefore important that this association is explored.

Aim: to measure the prevalence and risk of VT among a sample of nurses working in addiction services and to explore the association between leadership and VT.

Objectives: •to quantify the prevalence of VT and associated risk and protective factors of VT among nurses •to measure the association between leadership and the occurrence of VT among nurses •to determine nurses’ perceptions of protective factors for VT •to explore nurses’ experiences of VT and determine their views about leadership and VT •to develop guidelines to minimise the occurrence of VT using the findings from the study

Methods: Explanatory sequential mixed method. Phase 1: quantitative survey. Convenience sampling, (n=175) European nurses who work with people with addiction, completed an online questionnaire survey. SPSS was used to analyse data. Commenced in 2020 and ongoing. Phase 2: qualitative interviews using convenience sample (n=15) data collection complete and analysis ongoing. Ethical approval: granted on 10/11/2020

The findings provide evidence that: •nurses who work in the addiction field are highly exposed to traumatised patients and vulnerable to VT (mean VTS=37.9). •there is no significant correlation between the literature‘s risk and protective factors and VT •leadership is not proactively addressing VT among nurses.

VT is a serious threat for nurses who work in addiction services, as they are highly exposed to patients’ trauma. The preliminary findings indicate that deficiencies in organisational leadership could potentially result in an increase in VT among nurses.




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