The prevalence and correlates of secondary traumatic stress among alcohol and other drug workers in Australia

Philippa L. Ewer, Maree Teesson, Claudia Sannibale, Ann Roche, Katherine L. Mills*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Citations (Scopus)


Introduction and Aims: The high prevalence of trauma exposure and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) among clients of alcohol and other drug (AOD) services is well documented. Less is known, however, about the impact this has on workers who assess and treat such clients. The aim of this study was to examine the prevalence and correlates of secondary traumatic stress (STS) among AOD workers in Australia.

Design and Methods: An anonymous web-based survey was undertaken and completed by 412 Australian AOD workers. The questionnaire assessed current levels of trauma training, extent of exposure to clients with a history of trauma history, AOD workers' own history of trauma exposure and PTSD, and current STS. Analyses compared individuals who currently met criteria for experiencing STS with those who did not.

Results: Despite the high volume of traumatised clients accessing AOD services, less than two-thirds of AOD workers reported having ever received trauma training. The prevalence rate of STS was 19.9% and was independently predicted by a higher traumatised client workload, fewer hours of clinical supervision, and stress and anxiety levels of the worker.

Discussion and Conclusions: The findings highlight the importance of providing adequate trauma training and clinical supervision to AOD workers in order to maintain their health and welfare and ensure optimal treatment to clients with PTSD.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)252-258
Number of pages7
JournalDrug and Alcohol Review
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Clinical supervision
  • PTSD
  • Secondary traumatic stress
  • Substance abuse
  • Workforce


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