Methods: This is a cross-sectional survey study, where a self-administered electronic questionnaire was completed by a sample of service providers in agencies serving the Pittsburgh Jewish community. The survey was administered one-year after the murders at Tree of Life Synagogue in 2018. Data included 167 staff from 8 social service and educational agencies. The Primary Care PTSD Screen for DSM-5 (PC-PTSD-5) with a cut-point of 3 was used to identify probable PTSD. The Compassion Fatigue subscale from the Professional Quality of Life Scale was used to assess burnout, and the Rand MOS Social Support scale was used to measure social support. The study was approved as exempt by the University Institutional Review Board. Using Baron and Kenney’s method with bootstrapping, path analysis was conducted to test the mediation effect of burnout in the relationship between social support and PTSD.
Results: About one-fifth (19.9%) of the respondents had a positive PTSD screen. There was no difference of having positive PTSD screen by job roles, gender, being Jewish, and age. Multi-variate Logistic Regression analysis confirmed that higher social support was associated with reduced chance of having a positive PTSD screen. Further, burnout fully mediates the relationship between social support and PTSD symptoms.
Conclusions and Implications: The study revealed a high percentage of community service providers who work in the neighborhood where the Tree of Life shooting occurred screening positive for PTSD symptoms. Agencies need to examine their organizational capacity for addressing secondary trauma and related mental health concerns following community-wide traumas. Immediate interventions including trauma-specialized training and debriefing should be provided to staff. In addition, information about secondary and vicarious trauma should be included in agency training. There should also be additional steps to promote work environments (manageable workload, fair treatment, communication and support from management, etc.) to prevent burnout.