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Vicarious Traumatization: Potential Hazards and Interventions for Disaster and Trauma Workers

  • Kathleen M. Palm (a1), Melissa A. Polusny (a2) and Victoria M. Follette (a3)


Disaster and trauma workers often disregard their own reactions and needs when focusing on caring for those directly exposed to traumatic events. This article discusses the concept of vicarious traumatization, a form of post-traumatic stress response sometimes experienced by those who indirectly are exposed to traumatic events. It includes an examination of how vicarious trauma reactions are experienced across different professions, and suggestions on how to limit or prevent vicarious traumatization. The authors review self-care strategies as well as training and organizational considerations that may be beneficial for individuals and organizations to address.


Corresponding author

Addictions Research, Butler Hospital, 345 Blackstone Blvd, Providence, RI 02906USA E-mail:


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Prehospital and Disaster Medicine
  • ISSN: 1049-023X
  • EISSN: 1945-1938
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