Posttraumatic Stress Among Mortuary Workers: Prevalence, Risk, and Resilience
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CitationMcClanahan, Jessica. 2019. Posttraumatic Stress Among Mortuary Workers: Prevalence, Risk, and Resilience. Master's thesis, Harvard Extension School.
AbstractIn this study, I investigated the prevalence of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) symptoms among mortuary workers and the role of related risk and protective factors by exploring (i) rates of provisional PTSD diagnosis among a sample (n = 333), (ii) relationships between 11 predictor variables and PCL-5 Total PTSD Scores (PTSD symptom severity), and (iii) ability of predictor variables to predict variance in PTSD symptom severity. Given the risk of trauma exposure in the mortuary service field, I aimed to assess mental risk and resilience among those working in the industry. The study implemented a self-report survey via the Qualtrics platform to collect information about participants’ trauma experience and stress symptom expression, as well as demographic information and their experience with: body handling, coping mechanisms, social stigma, identification with the deceased, and ability to find meaning or purpose in their work. I found that gender, location, years of experience, coping, stigma, identification, and purpose had significant correlations with Total PTSD Scores with location, active coping, avoidant coping, and stigma functioning as the best predictors of Total PTSD Scores. Female participants tended to yield higher PTSD scores than males, and those who practiced their work in urban locations tended to yield higher PTSD scores than those in non-urban locations. Active, passive, avoidant, and masking coping, along with stigma and identification correlated positively to Total PTSD Scores while years of experience and purpose correlated negatively to Total PTSD Scores. These findings open an important dialogue on the factors that contribute to PTSD symptoms among mortuary workers. It is the primary hope of the researcher that by revealing the problem and identifying related contributing factors, future research can hone in on the most significant predictor variables to develop specialized mental health resources for a struggling population.
Citable link to this pagehttps://nrs.harvard.edu/URN-3:HUL.INSTREPOS:37365094
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