The prevalence of burnout and secondary traumatic stress in professionals and volunteers working with forcibly displaced people: A systematic review and two meta-analyses

Fritha Roberts, Bonnie Teague, Jennifer Lee, Imogen Rushworth

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Abstract

Research suggests that professionals and volunteers who work with forcibly displaced people (FDP) experience burnout and secondary traumatic stress (STS) as a result of working with such a highly traumatized population. In the present systematic review and meta-analyses, we report the pooled prevalence rates of burnout and STS in individuals working both professionally and voluntarily with FDP. The CINAHL Complete, E-Journals, ERIC, MEDLINE Complete, OpenDissertations, PsycARTICLES, and PsycINFO databases were searched for articles published historically to September 2019. Studies (N = 15) were included and assessed for quality if (a) their sample comprised individuals working in a professional or voluntary capacity with refugees, asylum seekers, forced migrants, or displaced persons and (b) reported on an outcome of STS or burnout. Two meta-analyses were conducted using random-effects models to assess the prevalence of (a) burnout and (b) STS. The pooled prevalence of high-level burnout was 29.7%, 95% CI [13.8%, 45.6%], with considerable heterogeneity between studies, Q(5) = 112.42, p <.001, I 2 = 95.6%. The pooled prevalence of moderate, high, and severe STS was 45.7%, 95% CI [26.1%, 65.2%] with considerable heterogeneity between studies, Q(12) = 1,079.37, p <.001, I 2 = 98.9%. Significant differences were observed in reported prevalence depending on the measure administered. This review highlights the high prevalence of high-level burnout and moderate-to-severe STS reported by individuals working with FDP. The results have implications for future research, employment support for individuals working with FDP, and measure selection for assessing STS.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)773-785
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Traumatic Stress
Volume34
Issue number4
Early online date27 Mar 2021
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2021

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