Secondary traumatisation, burn-out and functional impairment: findings from a study of Danish child protection workers

Maria Louison Vang, Mark Shevlin, Maj Hansen, Lane Lund, Ditte Askerod, Rikke Holm Bramsen, N. Flanagan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)
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Background: Child-protection workers are at elevated risk for secondary traumatization. However, research in the area of secondary traumatization has been hampered by two major obstacles: the use of measures that have unclear or inadequate psychometric properties and equivocal findings on the degree of associated functional impairment. 

Objective: To assess the relationship between secondary traumatization and burnout using exploratory structural equation modelling (ESEM) and to assess the relationship between secondary traumatization and functional impairment. 

Methods: A survey of Danish child-protection workers was conducted through the Danish Children Centres (N = 667). Secondary traumatization was measured using the Professional Quality of Life-5 (ProQoL-5) and burnout using the Oldenburg Burnout Inventory. 

Results: A three-factor ESEM model provided the best fit to the data, reflecting factors consistent with the structure of secondary traumatization and burnout. The factors were differentially related to trauma-related and organizational variables in ways consistent with existing evidence. All factors were significantly related to functional impairment. 

Conclusion: The findings supported the discriminant validity of secondary traumatization and burnout while highlighting methodological issues around the current use of sum-score approaches to investigating secondary traumatization. The current study supported the clinical relevance of secondary traumatization by linking it explicitly to social and cognitive functional impairment.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1724416
Pages (from-to)1-11
JournalEuropean Journal of Psychotraumatology
Issue number1
Early online date27 Feb 2020
Publication statusPublished online - 27 Feb 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors would like to thank the European Union?s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme for generous funding under the Marie Sk?odowska-Curie Actions, Grant Agreement No. 722523.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020, © 2020 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


  • Secondary traumatisation
  • burnout
  • child protection
  • exploratory structural equation modelling
  • discriminant validity
  • functional impairment
  • Secondary traumatization
  • child welfare


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