Symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder in journalist samples: A systematic literature review


This systematic literature review (SLR) serves as the first consolidation and synthesis of the quantitative literature concerning posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms in journalist samples. The SLR method adopted was based on that prescribed by Fink (2010) and contains three main elements: sampling the literature, screening the literature, and extracting data. Thirty-three cross-sectional studies have engaged journalists from over 16 different countries and across a broad range of media outlets over the last 25 years, employing diverse samples with respect to trauma exposure, role of journalists, as well as medium and assignment of focus. The findings highlight a number of variables that may be associated with increased risk of experiencing PTSD symptoms, including personal and work-related demographics, trauma exposure, depressive symptoms, substance use, social support, personality and cognitive characteristics, organisational stressors, and coping styles. Some future directions in terms of methodology and theory include: (1) comparing journalist samples to other professions, clinical samples, or to the general population, (2) the inclusion of diagnostic interviewing to establish diagnosis levels, (3) comparisons based on variables shown to influence PTSD in other populations. There is also a need to explore other trauma- and stressor-related disorders and anxiety disorders in journalist samples; the predominant focus on PTSD symptoms is problematic as it: (1) underestimates the potential clinical outcomes experienced by journalists, (2) does not adequately account for the impact of co-morbidity, and (3) focuses identification, intervention, and treatment on PTSD rather than a wider range of disorders.


MacDonald, J. B., Dale, E., Metcalf, D., Hodgins, G., & Saliba, A. J. (In press). Symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder in journalist samples: A systematic literature review. Traumatology. DOI: 10.1037/trm0000337