Psychosocial risks factors among victim support workers during the COVID-19 pandemic: a study with the Copenhagen Psychosocial Questionnaire

BMC Psychol. 2022 May 3;10(1):114. doi: 10.1186/s40359-022-00825-5.


Background: Being a victim support worker (VSW) involves exposure to victims' suffering, pain, and traumatic events, which may trigger the risk of VSWs developing mental health problems. Psychosocial risks (PSR) and work-related stress are considered the most challenging issues in occupational safety and health, considering they impact individuals, organizations, and economies.

Methods: The purpose of the present study was to identify the PSR in a sample of 196 Portuguese victim support workers (VSW) (Mean age = 36.49; SD = 10.52). A questionnaire with socio-demographic characteristics, variables related to VSW's job, and the Portuguese medium version of the Copenhagen Psychosocial Questionnaire II (COPSOQ II) were used to assess these professionals' perception of PSR factors.

Results: The results reveal that although VSW recognizes some psychosocial factors favourable to their health and well-being, they also identify some PSR that place them at intermediate and severe risk, i.e., emotional and cognitive demands, which are the main areas of risk to the VSW. VSW over 38 years old scored higher in job insecurity, burnout, and offensive behaviours.

Conclusions: These findings give important insights into the areas that must be enhanced in this context involving VSW. Additionally, the results highlight the relevance of encouraging a healthy and supportive work environment, preventing and promoting the health and well-being of VSW, particularly when considering the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

Keywords: Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic; Occupational health and safety; Psychosocial risk (PSR); Victim support workers (VSW).

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • COVID-19* / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Occupational Health*
  • Pandemics
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Workplace / psychology