Secondary traumatic stress in trauma nurses: prevalence and exposure, coping, and personal/environmental characteristics.
The purpose of this study is to determine the incidence of secondary traumatic stress (STS) in nurses who primarily care for trauma patients. A demographic/behavioral survey and Penn Inventory to measure the presence of STS were distributed to 262 nurses in a level I trauma center. Relationships between STS and years of experience, coping strategies, and personal and environmental characteristics were examined. Response rate was 49%. The median Penn Inventory score was 17.5. Nine nurses (7%) scored 35 or more, reflecting STS. Those with STS had fewer years of nursing experience and in trauma nursing, were more likely to use medicinals, and had fewer and weaker support systems.