• The backstretch: Some call it home

      Schefstad, Anthony Joseph; Ephross, Paul H. (1995)
      The purpose of the study was to explore the relationship between resident horsecare workers and the backstretch. The backstretch is a community that is hidden from the public view. It is a "backstage" of the horse racing world. Data were collected from informants using a grounded theory approach. Data were analyzed using the constant comparative method of analysis and working hypotheses was developed. As on-site counseling programs continue developing interventions for resident horsecare workers it is important to understand the backstretch from an emic perspective. Resident horsecare workers view their life as having improved living and working on the backstretch. This improvement is a result of basic human needs being met. The backstretch is a pre-industrial work place setting. Meeting human needs beyond the most basic is blocked on the backstretch by low wages, isolation, boredom, lack of upward mobility, few days off, company housing, and having a limited future. When opportunity is blocked, resident horsecare workers adapt by developing independence, practiced rituals, and using their genuine love of horses as a substitute for other satisfactions.
    • Compassion fatigue among adult protective services social workers

      Bergel, Dara P.; Belcher, John R. (2007)
      Compassion fatigue is a relatively new concept that describes the symptoms that are experienced by helping professionals who work with clients experiencing trauma from assault, maltreatment, and/or disaster. Little research has focused on the risk factors, effects, and experiences of social workers, specifically who work with the elderly. The purpose of this study was to qualitatively explore the experiences and perspectives of Adult Protective Services (APS) social workers related to compassion fatigue. Nine APS social workers were interviewed from six urban counties of the South Central Region of Pennsylvania. The constant comparative method of qualitative research elicited categories and themes, ultimately leading to a working hypothesis, which helped to explain why this particular sample did not experience compassion fatigue. They indicated that they developed and utilized self-protection measures to stave off any aspects of compassion fatigue. The APS social workers combined personal characteristics and professional factors to develop boundary-setting mechanisms which protected them from experiencing the symptoms and effects of compassion fatigue. The personal characteristics included the knowledge and skills developed from social work education, a personal history of dealing with crisis in their own lives, specific personality traits that APS social workers believe are inherent and needed in order to succeed in this job, the personal sense of achievement that they experience from doing this type of work, their overall fondness for this type of work, the familiarity and knowledge that they have gained from this job, and the personal strengths that these APS social workers intrinsically possess. The professional factors which have assisted APS social workers in creating boundaries are co-worker support, lack of supervisory and institutional support which fosters independence, the feeling of authority that is granted by the job, and the APS social worker's knowledge of the professional resources offered by their employer, the Area Agency on Aging. Social work education, micro practice, macro practice, and policy implications center around the elements needed to implement boundaries in order to maintain a separation between the work and home environment. Suggestions for future research are also provided.
    • Psychological Trauma in the Workplace: Variation of Incident Severity among Industry Settings and between Recurring vs. Isolated Incidents

      DeFraia, Gary S. (2015-07)
      Background: Psychologically traumatic workplace events (known as critical incidents) occur within various work environments, with workgroups in certain industries vulnerable to multiple incidents. With the increasing prevalence of incidents in the USA, incident response is a growing practice area within occupational medicine, industrial psychology, occupational social work and other occupational health professions. Objective: To analyze a measure of incident severity based on level of disruption to the workplace and explore whether incident severity varied among different industry settings or between workgroups experiencing multiple vs. single traumatic incidents. Methods: Administrative data mining was employed to examine practice data from a workplace trauma response unit in the USA. Bivariate analyses were conducted to test whether scores from an instrument measuring incident severity level varied among industry settings or between workgroups impacted by multiple vs. isolated events. Results: Incident severity level differed among various industry settings. Banks, retail stores and fast food restaurants accounted for the most severe incidents, while industrial and manufacturing sites reported less severe incidents. Workgroups experiencing multiple incidents reported more severe incidents than workgroups experiencing a single incident. Conclusion: Occupational health practitioners should be alert to industry differences in several areas: pre-incident resiliency training, the content of business recovery plans, assessing worker characteristics, strategies to assist continuous operations and assisting workgroups impacted by multiple or severe incidents.