Degree Name

Master of Science in Nursing (MSN)

Document Type

Major Paper


School of Nursing




Individuals employed in healthcare services are exposed daily to a variety of health and safety hazards which include psychosocial risks, such as those associated with work-related stress. Nursing is the largest group of health professionals in the healthcare system. Work-related stress has been associated with substandard quality and safety of care, poor health status, decreased quality of life and compromised safety among staff members (Christodoulou-Fella, Middleton, Papathanassoglou, & Karanikola, 2017).

Secondary traumatic stress (STS) is exacerbated in health professionals who are continuously confronted and care for patients suffering traumatic injuries and are critically ill, while experiencing emotional disruption themselves, thus becoming indirect victims of the trauma, they care for (Christodoulou-Fella et al.). The purpose of this study was to explore the prevalence and severity of traumatic symptoms experienced by nurses working in the emergency department (ED) secondary to repetitive exposure of distressing events. The author utilized a 17-item survey to measure symptoms associated with indirect exposure to traumatic events due to profession. Two open-ended questions were added to better understand nurses’ views on STS. Results indicated that nurses in the ED are experiencing little to moderate symptoms of STS. Majority of participants indicated they have experienced more than one item asked in the questionnaire at least occasionally or often. A response rate of over 50% of participants specified staff debriefing shortly after being exposed to a traumatic event to be beneficial to reduce symptoms of STS. Replication of this project on a larger scale could serve as the foundation for establishing new policies regarding STS and the need for staff support services or programs.