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What Is the Compendium?

Each of the over 500 listings in the Compendium of Resources includes the resource title, source, and author or developer, as well as a general description identifying the categorydisciplineorganizational strategytopic, and CDC code, if applicable. Research literature items include full bibliographical citations.

Searching by Category

Items in the Compendium of Resources are divided into four main categories:

  • Resources From the Field. Materials in this section include policies, standard operating procedures and guidelines, practices and programs, and training curricula gathered through a national survey and through requests to the field for resources currently being used to address vicarious trauma.
  • Research Literature. Materials in this section include research and clinical articles for individuals interested in impact, prevalence, risk factors, and intervention studies, as well as methodological tools for measuring aspects of vicarious trauma. These materials were selected from an extensive literature search in the areas of public health, medicine, psychiatry, law, social work, criminal justice, clinical and organizational psychology, and other social sciences. Research literature is presented in two forms: full-text articles in complete form and abstracts of articles that are subject to copyright laws. (For guidance on locating full-text articles, see the Directory of Open Access Journals and Stanford University's list of online full-text articles.)
  • New Tools for the Field. Sixteen new tools were created by the VTT Project Team to address gaps identified in the pilot testing of the toolkit. Materials in this section include the Vicarious Trauma—Organizational Readiness Guide (VT–ORG), talking points to help leaders make the business case for addressing vicarious trauma, discipline-specific PowerPoint presentations to raise awareness about vicarious trauma and its impact, and one-page guidance on family support, human resources, peer support, employee assistance programs, and supervision in a vicarious trauma-informed organization.
  • Websites, Podcasts, and Videos. Materials in this section include links to websites, blogs, and other resources for organizations and authors/trainers seeking to build or strengthen their response to vicarious trauma. While all of these websites provide free information, some may require a fee for services such as consultation and workshops. These websites were carefully considered and analyzed for usefulness prior to inclusion in the VTT. However, it is for you to determine whether they fit your needs, and whether you want or are able to pay for any of the services offered for a fee. The VTT does not receive any payment for listing these resources.

A full bibliography of every research article in the VTT is also available.

Determining the Discipline

Each item in the Compendium of Resources has been reviewed for its usefulness to the fields of victim services, emergency medical services, fire services, and law enforcement, as well as allied professionals working with and within these disciplines, such as chaplains, protective services caseworkers, dispatchers, forensic interviewers, and mental health counselors. Each item's description identifies the disciplines to which it is most applicable. You can also filter your search of the Compendium to identify only those resources that apply to your specific discipline.

The fact that resources in the toolkit came from members of their own profession was the number one reason pilot sites cited them as useful for the toolkit. 

VTT pilot study finding

Identifying the Organizational Strategy

Each item in the Compendium has been analyzed to show how it helps build capacity in one or more of the five organizational strategies that are essential to becoming a vicarious trauma-informed organization. Item descriptions include the following codes to reflect the relevant organizational strategy(ies):

EEWE—Employee Empowerment and Work Environment
LM—Leadership and Mission
MS—Management and Supervision
SHW—Staff Health and Wellness
TPD—Training and Professional Development

Items that support all five areas of organizational health are listed as "OS" without a specific code after it.

Searching by Topic Area

Items in the Compendium of Resources section are further categorized to be searchable by topic or area of interest. Topics include chaplains, communication, compassion fatigue, critical incidents, employee assistance program (EAP), eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR), employee victim assistance program (EVAP), exercise, family support, impact, interventions, mass violence, mental health, mindfulness, organizational strategies, peer support, prevalence, resilience, risk factors, secondary traumatic stress, supervision, and work culture.

I was able to pull really excellent policies from the Denver PD and other organizations, and I said to myself, 'You do not have to reinvent the wheel … You can find all these samples.' So I sent those to [my supervisor] and he was so excited, saying, 'That is exactly what I needed.'

Trauma/CISM Clinician, Law Enforcement/Mental Health

Interpreting the CDC Code

Research literature articles were analyzed using the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Continuum of Evidence of Effectiveness, which outlines six dimensions of research evidence to better understand an article or tool's strength of evidence and effectiveness. The VTT Project Team used this tool to assess the strengths and weaknesses of the research evidence of the research literature collected, particularly for the studies that evaluated programs or policy interventions.

The continuum's dimensions include the following:

  • Well Supported—Includes programs and strategies that were found to be effective by rigorous experimental studies and include comprehensive guidance for how to implement them in other settings.
  • Supported—Includes programs and strategies that were found to be effective by quasi-experimental studies and include comprehensive guidance for how to implement them in other settings.
  • Promising Direction—Includes programs and strategies that were found to have some level of effectiveness by cross-sectional or single-group nonexperimental studies and include partial guidance for how to implement them in other settings. More research is needed.
  • Emerging—Includes programs and strategies that were found to have some indications of effectiveness by program implementers, but much more research is needed. They do not typically include any guidance for implementation in other settings.
  • Undetermined—Includes programs and strategies whose effectiveness is undetermined and that do not include any guidance for implementation in other settings.
  • Unsupported—Includes programs and strategies that were found to be ineffective by rigorous or quasi-experimental studies.
  • Harmful—Includes programs and strategies that were found to constitute risk of harm in any type of evaluation study.
  • Not Assessed—No literature is available to assess the effectiveness of the program or strategy.

The continuum can also be used to better understand where the research on a strategy's effectiveness can be strengthened. (National Collaborating Centre for Methods and Tools (2012))

Given the current state of research on vicarious trauma applicable to the fields of victim services and first responders, the majority of the resources in the VTT are categorized as Promising Direction or Emerging. As the field evolves, so will the research to support the strategies developed. Future updates to the VTT Toolkit, then, may include studies with ratings such as Well Supported or Supported.