MA Research Paper


Master of Arts




Dr. Kim Shuey


The study of the relationship between work-related post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and the family has commonly been approached from both a psychological and psychiatric perspective. Moreover, these studies have primarily focused on how PTSD impacts familial relationships from the perspective of the individual who has PTSD, while little attention has been placed on the viewpoint of family members. By using data obtained from Beyond Blue and Reddit, the current study aims to redress this gap by directly exploring the perceptions of family members living with an emergency service worker who has PTSD. A qualitative content analysis was conducted using a total of 20 threads with nine obtained from Beyond Blue, and the remaining 11 from Reddit. The narratives of 27 different forum participants – two children and 25 spouses of an individual with PTSD – were included in this analysis. The findings from this study indicated six fundamental themes that were addressed by participants: (1) “walking on eggshells,” (2) a shift in roles and responsibilities, (3) the notion of ambiguous loss, (4) a lack of support, (5) personal impact, and (6) interpersonal impact. All of these themes highlight the difficulties that families endure while living with an individual who has work-related PTSD and further illustrates the need for attention to be placed on developing strategies and interventions tailored explicitly towards meeting the distinct needs of those living with a family member who has PTSD.

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