Trauma Exposure and Reactions in Journalists: A systematic literature review


Background: The present systematic literature review (SLR) aims to provide a concise, comprehensive, and systematic review of the quantitative literature relating to journalists’ exposure and reactions to potentially traumatic events (PTEs). Journalists frequently cover stories relating to fatal car accidents, crime, murder, suicide, natural disasters, and various other forms of violence and tragedy within society. Journalists’ exposure to PTEs, high levels of job stress, and anecdotal reports within the industry seem to suggest that journalists are at risk of developing adverse trauma reactions. Such a SLR has not been conducted in this area before. Method: The systematic review method adopted is that prescribed by Fink (2010), which contains three main elements: Sampling the literature, screening the literature, and extracting data. Results: First, journalists’ exposure to PTEs is discussed. This includes consideration of both work-related and personal exposure to trauma. In addition, stalking victimisation of journalists is considered and tends to overlap both the work and personal domains. Second, possible trauma reactions are examined, including journalists’ prevalence and symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, stress, and general psychological distress. A range of variables that have been shown to predict adverse trauma reactions in journalists are also elucidated and explored. Conclusions: Understanding the kinds of PTEs journalists are exposed to as well as the trends in trauma reactions is the first step in developing procedures and support structures to safeguard individuals against adverse trauma reactions. Such findings can also be used to inform practice and policy in the international journalism industry. This SLR raises a number of methodological and theoretical issues to be explored and addressed in future research.


MacDonald, J. B., Hodgins, G., & Saliba, A. J. (2015). Trauma Exposure and Reactions in Journalists: A systematic literature review. Dangerous Journalism: Journalism Education and Research Association of Australia Conference, 30 Nov – 2 Dec. Bathurst, Australia. (Paper)