This third episode of the “Workforce Resiliency” mini-season of the National Institute of Justice’s (NIJ’s) Just Science podcast series is a continuation of the previous episode of an interview with Dr. Cara Berg Raunick, a woman’s health nurse practitioner and the Director of Clinical Quality and Advancement at Health Care Education and Training, who continues her discussion of the features of and ways to address vicarious trauma experienced by sexual assault nurse examiners (SANEs).
An introductory note summarizes the issues discussed by Dr. Raunick in her previous interview, which focused on the features of vicarious trauma, its effects on SANEs, and how those effects can undermine critical care to survivors of sexual violence. In the current episode, she discusses her research methods in examining these issues and its findings on vicarious trauma among SANEs. Her research involved the use of the Temperament and Atypical Behavior Scale (TABS) to measure cognitive distortion or changes in cognitive schema. The research found that TABS scores were highest for people who had a personal history of trauma. It was higher in SANEs with such a personal history than in women’s health nurses with a personal history of trauma. The research suggests that people who have experienced personal trauma, perhaps through sexual abuse, may be drawn to SANE work; however, they are also at higher risk for experiencing vicarious trauma that undermines their ability to cope with the experiences of sexual assault victims. This suggests that nurses drawn to SANE work must be prepared to cope constructively with the detrimental effects of vicarious trauma. The challenge is to have trials and evaluations of potentially effective coping strategies to determine what works in preventing or healing the detrimental effects of vicarious trauma experienced by SANEs.