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Trauma mitigation for the workforce: A conceptual framework applied in COVID-19 pandemic conditions

Siddharth Ashvin Shah, MD, MPH, Karla Siu, MSW, LCSW, Trever J. Dangel, PhD


The sudden and protracted emergency stemming from the coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19) pandemic presents potential exposures, or exacerbations, of psychological trauma to workforces. Organizationally significant traumatic stress warrants the trauma-informed attention of emergency managers wishing to protect the well-being of responders and prevent performance breakdowns.

This study focuses on interventions that can be applied at the organizational level without the need for specially trained clinicians. We first provide a rapid review of design principles intended to provide safe, ethical, and efficacious interventions that utilize informational and social learning principles. Next, we present a conceptual framework, drawing from the disaster management and clinical trauma evidence base, targeted to build proactive workplace programs for trauma mitigation. Duty of care and shared responsibility are discussed as a way to balance obligations and burdens of operating in milieus characterized by psychological trauma. Assuming that clinically significant trauma is handled by established systems of mental healthcare, the five case studies in this study demonstrate how empirical findings support program elements to address subclinical trauma in emergency managers and responders across sectors.


resiliency programming, trauma-informed, COVID-19, secondary traumatic stress, first responders, PEI (prevention and early intervention), pandemic, duty of care, organizational trauma, risk management

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