The impact of Vicarious Trauma on Indigenous health researchers

Eades, Anne-Marie, Hackett, Maree orcid iconORCID: 0000-0003-1211-9087, Raven, Margaret, Liu, Hueiming and Cass, Alan (2020) The impact of Vicarious Trauma on Indigenous health researchers. Public Health Research and Practice .

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To describe and reflect on an Indigenous researcher’s experience of vicarious trauma arising from a qualitative study of Indigenous women with chronic disease.

In-depth semi-structured interviews with thematic analysis were under-taken to explore the psychosocial factors experienced by Indigenous women as they managed their chronic disease. As part of the research process, reflecting on the experience of an Indigenous research team member, an Indigenous woman’s standpoint theoretical approach was adopted to frame discussion of the potential impact of vicarious trauma.

Interviews were conducted with participants from four Aboriginal Medical Services from urban, rural and remote Australia. Analysis of the interviews, and reflection regarding the researcher’s experiences, occurred within the context of a multi-disciplinary team.

Participant selection for the interview study was purposive. Seventy-two participants were selected for this study. The duration of the study was two years and was undertaken between March and December 2014, and finalised in December 2016.

n exploring how Indigenous women managed their own health and wellbeing, compelling stories of trauma, domestic violence and generational incarceration were shared with the researcher. Hearing and re-living some of these overwhelming experiences left her feeling iisolated and distressed. These compelling stories contributed to her experience of vicarious trauma.

When Indigenous researchers conduct research in Indigenous communities, we should monitor, prepare for and provide appropriate care and support to researchers to address the potential for vicarious trauma. These considerations are paramount if we are to build the capacity of Indigenous and non-Indigenous researchers to conduct Indigenous health research.

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