The mediating effect of depression between exposure to potentially traumatic events and PTSD in news journalists

Backholm, Klas; Björkqvist, Kaj
January 2012
European Journal of Psychotraumatology;2012, Vol. 3, Special section p2
Academic Journal
Background: News journalists are an occupational group with a unique task at the scene of an unfolding crisis--to collect information and inform the public about the event. By being on location, journalists put themselves at risk for being exposed to the potentially traumatic event. Objective: To compare potentially traumatic exposure during work assignments at a crisis scene and in personal life as predictors of the development of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in news journalists. Further, to investigate the mediating effect of depression between the predictor and predicted variables. Method: With a web-based questionnaire, information from a sample of Finnish news journalists (n=407) was collected. The data collected included details on the range of potentially traumatic assignments (PTAs) at the crisis scene during the past 12 months, lifetime potentially traumatic events (PTEs) in personal life, PTSD symptoms, and level of depression. Results: Approximately 50% of the participants had worked with a PTA during the past 12 months. Depression had a significant indirect effect on the relationship between PTAs at the scene and symptoms of PTSD. A similar result was found regarding the relationship between personal life PTEs and PTSD. Depression had a complete indirect effect in the case of PTAs and a partial indirect effect in regard to PTE exposure in personal life. Conclusions: Exposure to PTAs is common within journalistic work. The results reflect the importance of understanding the underlying mechanisms of the measured symptoms (PTSD, depression) in relation to trauma history. The main limitations of the study include the cross-sectional design and the nature of the instruments used for the collection of work-related trauma history.


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