The authors report no conflict of interest or relevant financial relationships.
A Mixed Methods Study of Secondary Traumatic Stress in Labor and Delivery Nurses
Article first published online: 12 JUL 2012
© 2012 AWHONN, the Association of Women's Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses
Journal of Obstetric, Gynecologic, & Neonatal Nursing
Volume 41, Issue 6, pages 747–760, November/December 2012
How to Cite
Beck, C. T. and Gable, R. K. (2012), A Mixed Methods Study of Secondary Traumatic Stress in Labor and Delivery Nurses. Journal of Obstetric, Gynecologic, & Neonatal Nursing, 41: 747–760. doi: 10.1111/j.1552-6909.2012.01386.x
- Issue published online: 26 NOV 2012
- Article first published online: 12 JUL 2012
- Manuscript Accepted: APR 2012
- University of Connecticut School of Nursing
- secondary traumatic stress;
- mixed methods;
- labor and delivery;
To determine the prevalence and severity of secondary traumatic stress in labor and delivery (L&D) nurses and to explore nurses’ descriptions of their experiences attending traumatic births.
A mixed methods convergent parallel design was used.
A random sample of 464 L&D nurses obtained from the membership list of the Association of Women's Health, Obstetric, and Neonatal Nurses (AWHONN) participated in this mail survey.
In the quantitative approach of this mixed methods study, participants completed the Secondary Traumatic Stress Scale. For the qualitative approach, the nurses were asked to describe their experiences being present at a traumatic childbirth.
In this sample, 35% of the L&D nurses reported moderate to severe levels of secondary traumatic stress. Content analysis of the participants’ descriptions of being present at traumatic births revealed six themes: (a) magnifying the exposure to traumatic births, (b) struggling to maintain a professional role while with traumatized patients, (c) agonizing over what should have been, (d) mitigating the aftermath of exposure to traumatic births, (e) haunted by secondary traumatic stress symptoms, and (f) considering foregoing careers in L&D to survive.
With 35% of this sample of L&D nurses reporting at least moderate secondary traumatic stress, nurses need to consider the possible impact their work may be having on them and take preventative measures to address their current symptoms.