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Sunday, April 7, 2024

When Institutions Harm Those Who Depend on Them: A Scoping Review of Institutional Betrayal

Christl, M. E., et al. (2024).
Trauma, violence & abuse
Advance online publication.


The term institutional betrayal (Smith and Freyd, 2014) builds on the conceptual framework of betrayal trauma theory (see Freyd, 1996) to describe the ways that institutions (e.g., universities, workplaces) fail to take appropriate steps to prevent and/or respond appropriately to interpersonal trauma. A nascent literature has begun to describe individual costs associated with institutional betrayal throughout the United States (U.S.), with implications for public policy and institutional practice. A scoping review was conducted to quantify existing study characteristics and key findings to guide research and practice going forward. Multiple academic databases were searched for keywords (i.e., "institutional betrayal" and "organizational betrayal"). Thirty-seven articles met inclusion criteria (i.e., peer-reviewed empirical studies of institutional betrayal) and were included in analyses. Results identified research approaches, populations and settings, and predictor and outcome variables frequently studied in relation to institutional betrayal. This scoping review describes a strong foundation of published studies and provides recommendations for future research, including longitudinal research with diverse individuals across diverse institutional settings. The growing evidence for action has broad implications for research-informed policy and institutional practice.

Here is my summary:

A growing body of research examines institutional betrayal, the harm institutions cause people who depend on them. This research suggests institutional betrayal is linked to mental and physical health problems, absenteeism from work, and a distrust of institutions. A common tool to measure institutional betrayal is the Institutional Betrayal Questionnaire (IBQ). Researchers are calling for more studies on institutional betrayal among young people and in settings like K-12 schools and workplaces. Additionally, more research is needed on how institutions respond to reports of betrayal and how to prevent it from happening in the first place. Finally, future research should focus on people from minority groups, as they may be more vulnerable to institutional betrayal.