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Secondary trauma and compassion fatigue in foster carers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Beatrice Hannah, Matt Woolgar

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)629-643
Number of pages15
JournalClinical Child Psychology and Psychiatry
Issue number4
Early online date31 May 2018
E-pub ahead of print31 May 2018
Published1 Oct 2018


King's Authors


Background: With the number of children being placed in the care of local authorities increasing, the need to recruit and retain foster carers is essential. Compassion fatigue is recognised as a negative effect for professionals working with adults and children who have experienced trauma. This study aims to confirm the proof of concept within foster carers and to explore the potential risks associated with intent to continue fostering, overall job satisfaction and psychological factors (avoidant coping) that could be targets for interventions. Methods: In total, 131 foster carers completed an online survey including self-report measures of compassion fatigue and associated risk factors. Results: Results confirm the existence of compassion fatigue among foster carers with rates in line with previous studies on other professionals working with children. High compassion fatigue was associated with lower intent to continue fostering and lower job satisfaction. Avoidant cognitive styles of psychological inflexibility and thought suppression were associated with compassion fatigue. Conclusion: The confirmation of compassion fatigue among foster carers and the potential risks to job retention are important findings for social care. The associations with avoidant cognitive styles have clinical implications for potential interventions. Recommendations for further research and the limitations of this study are also discussed.

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