The Impact of Emotional Exhaustion on Psychological Factors in Workers with Secondary Traumatic Experiences: A Multi-Group Path Analysis

Psychiatry Investig. 2020 Nov;17(11):1064-1072. doi: 10.30773/pi.2019.0313. Epub 2020 Nov 17.


Objective: The objective of the present study was to explore causal pathways to understand how second traumatic experiences could affect the development of emotional exhaustion and psychiatric problems.

Methods: A total of 582 workers who had jobs vulnerable to secondary traumatic experiences were enrolled for this study. Emotional exhaustion, secondary trauma, resilience, perceived stress, depression, anxiety, and sleep problems were evaluated. A model with pathways from secondary traumatic experience score to depression and anxiety was proposed. The participants were divided into three groups according to the resilience: the low, middle and high resilience group.

Results: Resilience was a meaningful moderator between secondary traumatic experiences and psychiatric problems. In the path model, the secondary trauma and perceived stress directly and indirectly predicted perceived stress, emotional exhaustion, depression, anxiety, and sleep problems in all three groups. Direct effects of perceived stress on depression and anxiety were the largest in the low resilience group. However, direct effects of secondary trauma on perceived stress and emotional exhaustion were the largest in the high resilience group.

Conclusion: Understanding the needs of focusing for distinct psychological factors offers a valuable direction for the development of intervention programs to prevent emotional exhaustion among workers with secondary traumatic experiences.

Keywords: Associated factors; Emotional exhaustion; Path analysis; Secondary traumatic experiences; Workers.