Are Females More Vulnerable to Secondary Trauma?

Although secondary traumatization has been extensively studied, gender difference in susceptibility has received limited attention. A study recently published in the American Journal of Orthopsychiatry addressed the issue by a meta-analysis of published findings on male and female persons in close, extended relationships with trauma victims, namely, their spouses, parents, children, and therapists. The analysis included peer-reviewed studies, written in English and published between 1990 and January 2012. Twelve studies reporting 17 findings on 1,623 subjects were identified. All the studies showed females’ higher susceptibility to secondary traumatization, with a mean effect size of 0.48 (95% CI [0.35, 0.60]). Moderator analysis revealed that studies conducted in the United States reported lower gender discrepancies than studies conducted elsewhere. The consistent finding that females are considerably more susceptible to secondary traumatization than males means that professionals must be made aware of the special vulnerability of girls and women and help them adopt ways of caring for the traumatized family member or clients while maintaining their own psychological boundaries.

For the abstract


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