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Soc Work Health Care. 2013;52(2-3):296-310. doi: 10.1080/00981389.2012.737902.

Social work in oncology-managing vicarious trauma-the positive impact of professional supervision.

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  • 1Department of Social Work, Melbourne School of Health Sciences, Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences, The University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.


This exploratory study focused on the experience and management of vicarious trauma in a team of social workers (Nā€‰=ā€‰16) at a specialist cancer hospital in Melbourne. Respondents completed the Traumatic Stress Institute Belief Scale (TSIBS), the Professional Quality of Life Scale (ProQOL), and participated in four focus groups. The results from the TSIBS and the ProQol scales confirm that there is a stress associated with the social work role within a cancer service, as demonstrated by the high scores related to stress. However at the same time the results indicated a high level of satisfaction which acted as a mitigating factor. The study also highlighted the importance of supervision and management support. A model for clinical social work supervision is proposed to reduce the risks associated with vicarious trauma.

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