A Longitudinal Examination of Secondary Traumatic Stress among Law Enforcement



Sarah W. Craun, Michael L. Bourke, David M. Bierie & Katria S. Williams

Victims & Offenders: An International Journal of Evidence-based Research, Policy, and Practice

June 2014






Current research on secondary traumatic stress (STS) has been drawn from cross-sectional data. To determine how STS manifests over time, we conducted a three-year, longitudinal panel survey of investigators at a federal law enforcement agency. We measured STS scores, coping styles, perceptions of the work environment, and subject demographics. We found that STS scores are fairly stable over time. A variety of both positive and negative coping mechanisms, as well as characteristics about the work environment, were found to impact STS. In particular, coping with denial more often in the previous year was related to higher STS scores a year later, while higher scores indicating supervisory support were related to lower STS one year later. Deputy demographic variables were unrelated to STS.









Human Services and Justice Coordinating Committee