School of Behavioral Sciences


Doctor of Education in Community Care and Counseling (EdD)


Kristy Ford


secondary traumatic stress, STS, Secondary Traumatic Stress Scale, nurses, emergency department, intensive care




This study seeks to determine if Emergency Department nurses experience more secondary traumatic stress than other nurses in different units of the hospital. This study is important because it is the first of its kind to compare Emergency Department to a medical intensive care unit, labor and delivery, and a medical floor in the same hospital. This was accomplished through the use of the Secondary Traumatic Stress Scale (STSS), with the addition of seven demographic questions used at the end. The STSS was administered to 110 nurses in a suburban, level-II trauma center in northeast Indiana during January and February of 2023. The data was assessed using ANOVA, and it was found that the medical intensive care unit had overall higher levels of secondary traumatic stress than the other three units measured. Limitations to the study include the relatively low response rate of the medical intensive care unit, which means the secondary traumatic stress rate may not be fully representative of that unit in general. A further limitation is the time of year during which the data was collected, which is traditionally a slower time for Emergency Departments in terms of how many traumas they encounter. Recommendations for future study include examining if the number of traumatic events experienced impacts secondary traumatic stress levels, as well as if a participant’s support system is connected to their level of secondary traumatic stress.

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