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  4. A Review Paper Co-Authored by Professor Toshio Kawai Has Been Published in Volume 62 of the Journal Psychologia

A Review Paper Co-Authored by Professor Toshio Kawai Has Been Published in Volume 62 of the Journal Psychologia

A review paper co-authored by Prof. Toshio Kawai has been published in Volume 62 of the journal Psychologia.


The aim of this review is to examine the psychological factors that characterize the domains of secondary traumatization in healthcare professionals. Secondary traumatization generally includes compassion fatigue, vicarious trauma, and burnout. They are known to affect both healthcare professionals and the quality of care. Of the papers published between 2014 and 2019, the authors extracted and reviewed 18 papers dealing with secondary traumatization, compassion fatigue, vicarious trauma, and burnout.


Witnessing patients’ suffering and their pain, or listening to their traumatic experiences are known to be possible causes of strong stressors on healthcare professionals and their secondary traumatization. In this review, the following three points are noted as triggers: long-term exposure to pain and suffering, lack of support in the workplace and/or in the family, the absence of self-care measures, and an inability to maintain the right professional boundaries. This review also suggests that resulting consequences manifest themselves at various levels: increased errors in the workplace, reduced quality of care, and poor performance. These have an impact on emotional and physical well-being and may result in effects such as depression, irritation, headaches, and fatigue.


The authors consider that prevention of secondary traumatization is important for healthcare professionals to cope with occupational stresses and to maintain quality of work life. Before burnout occurs, it is necessary to increase self-efficacy, optimism, and resilience by appropriately assessing the degree of stress and compassion fatigue. It is also suggested that empathy and understanding between healthcare professionals and a supportive work environment may also help to prevent this, as well as the ability of healthcare professionals themselves to control their own emotions and distance themselves appropriately from the patient’s experience, and to engage with patients with flexibility and new perspectives by utilizing supervision.



*This paper can also be viewed online (English).


Carmela Mento, Maria Catena Silvestri, Paola Merlino, Vanessa Nocito, Antonio Bruno, Maria R. Anna Muscatello, Rocco Antonio Zoccali, and Toshio Kawai. (2020). Secondary traumatization in healthcare professions: A continuum on compassion fatigue, vicarious trauma and burnout. Psychologia, 62 (2), 181-195