Staffing issues

Does Trauma Informed Self Care Reduce Worker Burnout?


This peer reviewed study examines the impact of a program titled Trauma Informed Self Care (TISC) on compassion satisfaction, secondary trauma and burnout in child welfare workers in the US (i.e. child protection workers in Australia).

Workers’ propensity to engage in self-care activities was assessed using a 14-item self-report instrument called Trauma Informed Self Care (TISC) – see sidebar.

Selected items from the TISC assessment

This study differs from most other similar studies because it focuses on self-care processes that are associated with work, e.g. ‘I utilize peer support’ (see sidebar) rather than more general outside of work self-care practices such as yoga, exercise, mindfulness etc.

Consistent with my previous post, the study states:

Despite widespread assumptions and recommendations that encourage workers to engage in self-care practices to buffer against the negative effects of working with traumatized individuals, there has been surprisingly little evaluation of the relationship between self-care and worker wellbeing.

Greater levels of TISC were associated with higher levels of compassion satisfaction and lower levels of burnout (but not secondary trauma). 


  • There are statistically significant correlations between engaging in TISC activities and both decreased burnout and increased compassion satisfaction.
  • Therefore, without wanting to get into discussions of ‘correlation does not equal causation’, it would seem to be beneficial for workers to engage in TSIC practices.
  • However, the study’s statistical analysis[1] indicates that there are other factors, not assessed by the study, that have a greater impact on burnout and compassion satisfaction than participation in TISC.
  • Therefore, even if it were possible to increase staff participation in TISC (which is doubtful in my view),  this would not substantially reduce burnout rates in OoHC and YJ staff.


  • What other factors do you think play a part in preventing burnout in OoHC and YJ staff other than self-care practices?
  • How can management encourage staff to participate more  in self-care practices?

Salloum, A., et al. (2015). “The role of self-care on compassion satisfaction, burnout and secondary trauma among child welfare workers.” Children and Youth Services Review 49(0): 54-61.

[1] In statistical terms this refers to R2 or ‘Goodness of Fit’, i.e. how much of the total variability in outcome variables (e.g. burnout and compassion satisfaction) can be explained by TISC self-care practices. Given that this comparably low, it is assumed that other factors are in play.

About graemembaird

I am a psychologist with a special interest in improving the outcomes of families, children and young people in the Out of Home Care and Juvenile Justice systems.
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