Trauma-related guilt and posttraumatic stress among journalists


  • This research is based on the corresponding author's doctoral thesis. The second and third authors contributed equally to this work and are listed alphabetically.


This study explored the psychological impact of exposure to work-related trauma among journalists. It was hypothesised that positive associations would exist between (a) exposure and PTSD symptoms, (b) exposure and guilt cognitions, and (c) guilt cognitions and PTSD symptoms, and that the relationship between exposure and PTSD symptoms would be mediated by guilt cognitions. The sample consisted of 50 journalists (response rate = 15%), who had recently been exposed to work-related trauma. They were predominantly male, aged 40 years or older, well-educated, and most had worked in journalism for at least 15 years. Participants completed an online questionnaire that explored their work-related experiences of trauma, PTSD symptoms, and trauma-related guilt cognitions. The findings showed that higher levels of exposure to work-related trauma were significantly associated with higher levels of PTSD symptoms (r = .36) and trauma-related guilt cognitions (r = .29). Guilt cognitions were significantly and positively independently associated with PTSD symptoms (r = .12) and were consistent with partial mediation of relationship between exposure to work-related trauma and PTSD symptoms. This study provides greater insight into the psychological processing of work-related traumatic events among journalists and emphasizes the importance of posttrauma appraisals of guilt regarding their experiences.