Methods: This study used a survey-based, longitudinal design. All attendees of an HNN event were invited to participant in the study over a six-month period from January to June 2019. Once participants agreed to be in the study, participants were sent eight electronic surveys over one-year period (monthly for months 1-6, month 9, and month 12) regardless of their attendance of HNN events. Participants self-reported on items associated with professional quality of life (ProQOL) measuring compassion satisfaction, burnout, and secondary traumatic stress at each time point. Data on discipline, years in the field, and number of HNN attended were also collected.
Results: In 2019, over 300 helping professionals from a number of disciplines (37% social work, 23% other mental health professionals, 8% education, 4% medical, 7% community work/social entrepreneurship, 21% other disciplines) met each month to explore self-care, foster social connections, and enhance interprofessional collaboration, while simultaneously reducing the risks of secondary trauma and professional burnout. A total of 41 participants enrolled in the evaluation study and 26 participants completed surveys at two or more time points. Findings of the evaluation study comparing rates of compassion satisfaction, burnout, and secondary traumatic stress at baseline and last reported timepoint among those 26 participants found that increased participation in HNN was significantly associated with increased compassion satisfaction. Participants reported gaining knowledge, increased relational connection, and that people they serve will benefit from having attended HNN.
Conclusions and Implications: Reducing the damaging effects of indirect trauma is critical to developing a resilient workforce that will, in turn, continue to provide high-quality health and human services to individuals and communities experiencing adversity. HNN provides an innovative, culturally-appropriate, trauma-informed approach to promoting resiliency and connectedness among helping professionals working with individuals, families and communities who have experienced trauma.