Occupational well-being among Danish Child Protection Workers
: Prevalence, Predictors and Prevention of Secondary Traumatisation and Burnout

  • Maria Vang

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


International research has documented that child protection workers are at risk for secondary traumatisation and burnout due to their occupational duties and conditions. However, existing knowledge is limited in multiple ways. The relationship between secondary traumatisation and burnout is insufficiently understood, methods of identifying clinically relevant levels of burnout and secondary traumatisation are lacking, and knowledge on the prevalence of these syndromes among Danish child protection workers as well as evidence-based strategies for prevention in the context of Danish child protection work is scarce. The aim of this thesis is to estimate the prevalence and relationship of burnout and secondary traumatisation among Danish child protection workers, to assess the relationship between the syndromes and individual, operational and organisational factors, and to provide recommendations to prevent the development of burnout and secondary traumatisation in the context of the Danish Children Centres. This aim was addressed through a nation-wide survey of Danish child protection workers (N=667) and data was analysed using structural equation modelling. Chapter 2 systematically reviews existing evidence for the relationship between individual, operational and organisational factors and both syndromes. Chapter 4 investigates the conceptual and empirical relationship between burnout and secondary traumatisation among Danish Child protection workers. Chapter 5 describes the development of a classification method for identifying participants at risk for clinically significant levels of secondary traumatisation and burnout. Chapter 6 investigates the relationship between at-risk status and individual, operational and organisational factors, and Chapter 7 discusses results from the thesis considering existing knowledge to provide recommendations for prevention. Burnout and secondary traumatisation were distinct phenomena among Danish child protection workers that were at higher risk for burnout (18.3 %) than secondary traumatisation (4 %). Individual, operational and organisational factors predicted both syndromes and differentiated efforts are required to adequately prevent the risk of either outcome.
Date of AwardMay 2020
Original languageEnglish
SponsorsEU Framework Programme Horizon 2020
SupervisorMark Shevlin (Supervisor) & Jamie Murphy (Supervisor)


  • Child protection
  • Burnout
  • Secondary traumatisation
  • Indirect Trauma
  • Work-related stress

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