Predicting vicarious traumatization in those indirectly exposed to bushfires

Mitchell K. Byrne, Doukessa Lerias, Nichole L. Sullivan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Post-traumatic stress through indirect exposure to trauma can mimic the psychological experiences of direct victims. This is referred to as vicarious traumatization, an impairing condition that largely goes undetected in the general population. This study sought to describe this condition and predict those who may be at risk of developing this type of post-traumatic stress. One hundred and fifteen participants from south-east New South Wales (NSW) in Australia who had not experienced any direct exposure, loss or injury from the 2001-2002 NSW bushfires were interviewed using the Vicarious Traumatization Questionnaire, Impact of Events Scale and Coping Strategies Indicator. Results indicated that specific peri-event, post-event and pre-event characteristics were able to predict at least 75 per cent of those who experienced vicarious traumatization resulting from the 2001-2002 NSW bushfires. This study was able to identify and describe vicarious traumatization in a sample of the general population. The importance of these results and the issues for further research are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)167-177
Number of pages11
JournalStress and Health
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2006


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