The influence of clinicians' previous trauma exposure on their assessment of child abuse risk

J Nerv Ment Dis. 2010 Sep;198(9):614-8. doi: 10.1097/NMD.0b013e3181ef349e.


Research has identified high levels of trauma exposure and PTSD in professionals responsible for assessing children at risk for abuse. An important question arising is the influence of stress and trauma on professional judgment. This study examined the association between critical incident exposure, PTSD and workers' judgments of child risk. Ninety-six child protection workers participated in 2 simulated clinical interviews and subsequently completed standardized risk assessment measures. Workers reported high levels of exposure to critical events in the workplace and high levels of traumatic stress symptoms. Number of prior critical events encountered was negatively associated with assessment of risk. Level of traumatic stress symptoms was negatively associated with risk on one, but not other measures of risk. It is concluded that standardized measures for assessing a child's risk of abuse may be influenced by previous exposure to critical workplace events and levels of traumatic stress in workers.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Adult Survivors of Child Abuse / psychology*
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Child
  • Child Abuse / psychology*
  • Child Welfare / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Judgment*
  • Life Change Events
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Risk Assessment*
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / psychology
  • Stress, Psychological / psychology
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Workplace / psychology