Trauma exposure and substance use in TV news journalists


Journalists are a unique population as they frequently cover stories relating to violence, crime, death, destruction, and tragedy, exposing them to potentially traumatic events. This study aimed to assess whether personal and work-related trauma exposure are associated with the substance use behaviours of TV news journalists, as well as the relationship between coping style and substance use risk personality traits and substance use. The sample comprised 134 international TV news journalists who completed an online survey with a demographics section, Journalist Trauma Exposure Scale, Traumatic Life Events Questionnaire, Brief Coping Operations Preference Enquiry, and a section on substance use behaviours. Findings indicated: (1) problem-focused coping, anxiety-sensitivity, and impulsivity predicted variance in alcohol use, and (2) no independent variable was able to significantly predict variance in nicotine or caffeine use. However, range of intensity of trauma exposure was found to significantly positively correlated with both nicotine and caffeine use. Other illicit and prescription substances were also assessed in the present study. A key finding is that participants reported increased substance use as a result of their work. Considering substance use as a trauma reaction can serve to better inform diagnosis and treatment of journalists and elucidate opportunities for education and training.


Williams-Wynn, N., & MacDonald, J. B. (2021). Trauma exposure and substance use in TV news journalists. Australasian Conference on Traumatic Stress, 14–18 September. Online conference, Australia. (Paper)