HSR&D Citation Abstract
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Smith AM, Hamilton AB, Loeb T, Pemberton J, Wyatt GE. Reactions of Novice Interviewers Conducting Trauma Research With Marginalized Communities: A Qualitative Analysis. Journal of interpersonal violence. 2019 Dec 2; 886260519889925.
Abstract: Trauma-focused research highlights the reactions of seasoned professionals when engaging with vulnerable clients; however, less is known about the common reactions of novices engaged in trauma research, who may lack the skills to cope and interact with traumatized participants. The purpose of this study is to (a) describe common reactions experienced by novice trauma interviewers; (b) examine whether the issues they face are similar to those of seasoned helping professionals; and (c) discuss ways in which training and supervision can increase the well-being of interviewers in trauma research. A semi-structured assessment was administered to novice interviewers who had previously conducted psychosocial and trauma assessments with diverse community participants. Participation was voluntary. The assessment elicited responses concerning secondary traumatic stress, vicarious trauma, posttraumatic growth, and self-help and resources. Audio files were transcribed; responses were compiled to explore themes and identify illustrative quotes. Eight interviewers (two males, six females) participated. Six reported no prior experience working with populations with histories of trauma. Novice interviewers described experiences of secondary traumatic stress, vicarious trauma, compassion fatigue, posttraumatic growth, and resilience. Novice interviewers described symptoms consistent with those reported by seasoned helping professionals; positive and negative symptoms often coexisted. Interviewers who completed more assessments described reactions of sadness, anger, insomnia, and changes in worldview. Interviewers who shared similar traumatic histories or environments reported more examples of countertransference. All reported similar feelings of posttraumatic growth, such as hope and optimism, for their participants and an increased appreciation of their resilience. Implications for training and supervision are discussed.