Secondary Traumatic Stress

“Secondary Traumatic Stress and Burnout among Law Enforcement Investigators Exposed to Disturbing Media Images”
Lisa M. Perez, Jeremy Jones, David R. Englert, and Daniel Sachau

Article Abstract

This study examines the psychological impact of viewing disturbing media on investigators engaged in computer forensics work. Twenty-eight federal law enforcement personnel who investigate Internet child pornography cases completed measures of secondary traumatic stress disorder (STSD) and burnout. A substantial percentage of investigators reported poor psychological well-being in the wake of child pornography investigation. Greater exposure to disturbing media was related to higher levels of STSD and cynicism. STSD and burnout scores were related to increased protectiveness of family, reliance on co-workers, general distrust, and turnover intentions. On a positive note, investigators scored high in professional efficacy, indicating they feel their work makes a difference. Furthermore, personnel with supportive relationships scored lower on both STSD and burnout.