Cognitive, emotional, and behavioural implications of vicarious trauma

Everyone is exposed to stressors in their personal and work lives. How people evaluate and deal with these stressors determines how well they cope, which has implications for their immediate and long term health. Stress can also be less direct, the result of witnessing severe trauma suffered by others, such as the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center in New York and London subway attacks in 2005. Research has shown this “vicarious trauma” can also have a substantial impact on health, from post-traumatic stress disorder to depression and persistent worry. Rajiv Jhangiani is studying how individuals react when exposed to trauma indirectly. He is examining how people process information, react emotionally, and make decisions during their exposure to vicarious trauma. Jhangiani is assessing how certain factors influence this reaction and ability to cope, such as identifying with victims, the degree of uncertainty about the situation, information overload, and resilience. This information will help identify how individuals and health and social service providers can support healthy ways of coping with vicarious trauma.