Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph. D.


Criminal Justice

Degree Program

Criminal Justice, PhD

Committee Chair

Swartz, Kristin

Committee Co-Chair (if applicable)

Campbell, Bradley

Committee Member

Campbell, Bradley

Committee Member

Ouellette, Heather

Committee Member

Brady, Patrick

Author's Keywords

Secondary traumatic stress; probation and parole; community corrections; workplace trauma


The purpose of this dissertation was to discern the prevalence and magnitude of both exposure to traumatic events and Secondary Traumatic Stress (STS); as well as potential correlates of STS in a group of Probation and Parole officers in the state of Kentucky Department of Corrections (KY DOC). Participants (N=302) completed a written survey which asked them to indicate demographic variables (age, gender, and ethnicity), as well as several important occupational variables, namely years of experience in the KY DOC, caseload volume, prison work experience, and whether or not they are responsible for a sexual offender caseload. Participants were also asked a series of questions related to violent and traumatic events they may have experienced in the workplace; information regarding frequency and recency of these events was collected. Further, participants were asked to complete Bride et al. (2004) Secondary Traumatic Stress Scale (STSS). Results of this study indicted 46.1% of the sample is at risk for Secondary Traumatic Stress Disorder (STSD). Participants were exposed to a variety of traumatic events in the workplace, results indicate exposure to indirect trauma was higher than exposure to direct trauma in this group. Analysis indicated that younger staff experienced higher rates of symptomology. Exposure to trauma, whether it was direct or indirect, significantly increased STS symptomology. However, when both direct and indirect traumas were included in regression models together, indirect trauma became insignificant. Implications of this study, as well as directions for future research, are discussed.