Self-reported Vicarious Trauma in Asylum Evaluators: A Preliminary Survey
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Hundreds of clinicians in the US conduct asylum evaluations, to document evidence of torture and persecution of people fleeing their home countries. Participating in these encounters puts clinicians at risk for vicarious trauma (VT). Little research addressed VT in physicians. Even less is known about VT among asylum evaluators. A survey was distributed to members of the asylum network of Physicians for Human Rights in Spring 2012. The majority (65 %) of survey participants denied having experienced VT. However, being female, being a mental health professional and having performed a greater number of evaluations was associated with a higher likelihood of reporting VT. We present preliminary data about VT in asylum evaluators. Recruiters and trainers should make every effort to address the issue and educate their volunteers about means of identifying and managing symptoms. Formal and informal support services and resources should be developed and shared with volunteers.
KeywordsVicarious trauma Asylum evaluation Primary care physicians Asylum seekers Torture and maltreatment Human rights
The authors would like to thank the following individuals: (1) Sarah Kureshi, MD, MPH for her contributions to the conception and design of the survey; (2) Benjamin M. Donvan for his assistance with qualitative data tabulation and summary. The authors wish to thank the Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) Asylum Network for their cooperation and assistance, particularly Jillian Tuck, Kelly Holz and Christy Fujio who helped with survey review and distribution.
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