Given high prevalence of secondary traumatic stress (STS) among child welfare (CW) workers and its relationship to child/family outcomes, new interventions have been developed to ameliorate STS and build resilience skills and practices. Yet, interventions may fail to improve workers’ well-being if dosage is insufficient. As part of the Strengthening Child Welfare Systems federal initiative which sought to enhance agency practices, this statewide project piloted Resilience Alliance (RA) psycho-educational groups with direct service CW workers. In light of high worker turnover and the high-stress climate of CW systems, the pilot study examined intervention dosage via workers attendance at the intervention. Our research question was: What worker characteristics predicted high dosage (i.e., high attendance)?
The setting was a statewide pilot project which sought to test whether RA would reduce STS and improve resilience. The sample comprised 60 direct service CW workers. Participants completed surveys at baseline and weekly groups via REDCap. Predictor variables included worker demographics, agency type and region, years’ experience in CW, and well-being measures of STS (STS scale; Bride et al., 2004) and resilience (Brief Resilience Scale; Smith et al, 2008). Following bivariate analysis, backwards stepwise multivariate logistic regression analyses was conducted to explore predictors of high dosage, which was defined as worker attendance at 10 or more sessions.
Overall, study participants’ STS (M=22.4, SD=12.2) and resilience (3.6, SD=.78) were unexpectedly low and high, respectively, as compared to other CW samples (e.g., Baugerud et al., 2018; Pharris et al., 2022). Results showed that baseline STS was lower and resilience was higher among those who received a higher dosage of RA (STS, M=21.2, SD=12.4; resilience, M=3.7, SD=.73) as compared to those with lower dosage of RA (STS, M=25.0, SD=11.8; resilience, M=3.3, SD=.86). Multivariate logistic regression indicated that baseline STS was not entered into the stepwise model and therefore not a statistically significant predictor of high dosage (p=.918). However, resilience was trending toward statistical significance (OR=1.87, p=.10). Years’ experience was a statistically significant predictor of high dosage with a large effect (OR=4.39, p=.024).
Overall, this exploratory analysis showed that workers’ baseline STS was not related to experiencing high dosage of RA. Yet, higher resilience at baseline indicated potential association with high dosage and should be closely examined in future research. Most clearly, workers with more years’ experience had a higher probability of participating in RA and thereby receiving a high dosage. These results are important because they may flag self-selection bias, showing that workers who opted into RA had higher resilience. Regarding years’ experience, results may suggest that more experienced workers place a higher value on engaging in resilience interventions. Taken together, results point to needing strategies for engaging and readying workers with less experience and lower resilience so they may benefit from programs like RA. Also needed is further development and investigation of interventions that may appeal to new workers and those with high STS and low resilience, such as interventions that are briefer than 12-weeks or use different, non-cognitive modalities to teach resilience skills.