Organizational Culture And Vicarious Trauma

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Social Work


Doctor of Philosophy

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Social service organizations must accept some responsibility for the organizational culture that contributes to the vicarious traumatization of licensed social workers. Vicarious trauma was called by some as the cost of caring and an occupational hazard for many social workers. Vicarious trauma changes the social worker's perspective and inner experience due to the continuous exposure to another person's experiences with trauma. In this study, 178 licensed social workers completed the Professional Quality of Life survey (ProQOL), the Trauma Informed Organizational Culture survey (TIOC), and a Demographic questionnaire to examine the association between the Organizational Culture constructs of Perceived Organizational Peer Support, Perceived Organizational Supervisory Support, Perceived Organizational Systemic Support, and Perceived Organizational Trauma Training and the Vicarious Trauma constructs of Burnout and Secondary Traumatic Stress. It was hypothesized that Organizational Culture contributed to the vicarious trauma of licensed social workers. Utilizing Simple Linear Regression, Independent Sample T-test, and ANOVA, bivariate analyses were conducted on the variables. Perceived Organizational Supervisory Support and Perceived Organizational Systemic Support were found to be significant in association for both of the Vicarious Trauma constructs of Burnout and Secondary Traumatic Stress. Perceived Organizational Trauma Training and race/ethnicity were statistically significant in association with the Vicarious Trauma construct of Burnout only. The other variables had no association with Vicarious Trauma. The multivariate analysis was conducted on the significant variables utilizing the General Linear Model (GLM). None of the organizational support variables remained significant for Burnout after controlling for race. However, there was a moderate association between Perceived Organizational Supervisory Support and Burnout. Race/ethnicity remained the only variable to have a significant association with Burnout. The multiple comparison test showed that African American and Caucasian social workers had a higher possibility of Burnout than other races. As for Secondary Traumatic Stress, only Perceived Organizational Systemic Support remained statistically significant after a General Linear Model analysis. This means that the more Perceived Organizational Systemic Support licensed social workers received, the lower the possibility of Secondary Traumatic Stress. In conclusion, organizations could contribute to the emotional well-being of licensed social workers by ensuring that organizations enact policies and procedures that support and empower licensed social workers while they are performing their jobs. This could possibly lead to not only healthy social workers but also healthy organizations. In addition, organizations should ensure that they have well trained supervisors who can assist the licensed social worker with the occupational hazard of vicarious trauma. Furthermore, organizations should pay attention to the racial/ethnic differences of their staff as it pertains to vicarious trauma since race/ethnicity were also found to be significant in association with Secondary Traumatic Stress.