Predictors of trauma reactions in TV news camera operators


Previous research with general journalist samples has shown that journalists, in comparison to the general population, are at increased risk for trauma exposure and related psychological distress. Studies have seldom investigated more specific subgroups within the occupation. This study investigated current levels of work-related and personal exposure to potentially traumatic events and trauma reaction symptoms (posttraumatic stress, depression, anxiety, and stress) in TV news camera operators (N = 117). It also investigated whether trauma exposure and neuroticism were related to increased levels of trauma reaction symptoms. An international sample of camera operators participated in an online survey. Regression analyses were conducted to investigate study topics. Camera operators reported high rates of work-related and personal trauma exposure. The sample experienced greater levels of PTSD symptoms than expected in the general population, while fewer differences were found regarding depression, anxiety, and stress symptoms. More personal trauma exposure and neuroticism significantly predicted distress symptoms of all four kinds, while work-related exposure did not. Study limitations include the limited sample size and issues related to using surveys for measuring exposure to potentially traumatic events. The findings confirm what we know about the relationship between repeated exposure to aversive events and psychological distress. It contributes to the field by expanding this knowledge to include TV news camera operators, a unique role group within the journalism industry. It is also among the first to verify the positive association between neuroticism and trauma reactions in a journalist sample.


MacDonald, J. B., Backholm, K., Saliba, A. J., & Hodgins, G. (In press). Predictors of trauma reactions in TV news camera operators. Traumatology. DOI: 10.1037/trm0000332