An assessment of burnout in human service providers.Burnout Burnout
Depletion of a tax shelter's benefits. In the context of mortgage backed securities it refers to the percentage of the pool that has prepaid their mortgage. is an occupational hazard occupational hazard n. a danger or risk inherent in certain employments or workplaces, such as deep-sea diving, cutting timber, high-rise steel construction, high-voltage electrical wiring, use of pesticides, painting bridges, and many factories. for human service providers. The chronic emotional stress associated with the provision of human services produces "a syndrome of physical and emotional exhaustion Emotional exhaustion is a chronic state of physical and emotional depletion that results from excessive job demands and continuous hassles. it describes feeling of being emotionally overextended and exhausted by one's work. , involving the development of negative self concept, negative job attitudes, and a loss of concern and feelings for clients" (Pines & Maslach, 1978, page 224). Some individuals seem more predisposed pre·dis·pose
v. pre·dis·posed, pre·dis·pos·ing, pre·dis·pos·es
a. To make (someone) inclined to something in advance: than others to burnout. "Feeling" personality types (as classified by the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator Myers-Briggs Type Indicator Definition
The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) is a widely-used personality inventory, or test, employed in vocational, educational, and psychotherapy settings to evaluate personality type in adolescents and adults age 14 ) experience a much greater depletion of emotional energy in the face of negative reactions to people than do "thinking" types (Garden, 1987). In addition, those who are more likely to become emotionally involved in their work are more likely to burn out than those who have a more detached workstyle (Freudenberger, 1975).
Leiter (1991) has suggested that burnout may be inevitable for all personality types, due to the conflict between the idealistic "professional mystique" with which aspiring human service providers are endowed en·dow
tr.v. en·dowed, en·dow·ing, en·dows
1. To provide with property, income, or a source of income.
a. during their training and the harsh realities of working in the human service profession. People who enter the human service profession expect their jobs to be full of challenging experiences. They anticipate many emotionally rewarding interactions with grateful consumers, an air of camaraderie among their coworkers, and an administration that allows them autonomy in decision making and rewards their initiatives. All too often, however, they find that their consumers resent them as yet another authority figure in the bureaucratic bu·reau·crat
1. An official of a bureaucracy.
2. An official who is rigidly devoted to the details of administrative procedure.
bu leviathan leviathan (lēvī`əthən), in the Bible, aquatic monster, presumably the crocodile, the whale, or a dragon. It was a symbol of evil to be ultimately defeated by the power of good. . In some work settings, such as child welfare departments, the difficulties in negotiating the legal system, the limited capabilities of the consumers to help themselves, and the emotionally gripping nature of the tragedies of the innocent can make even relatively small caseloads overly oppressive (Jayaratne & Chess, 1984). Instead of new, challenging experiences, many human service providers find that their jobs involve going through the same tedious bureaucratic exercises every day (Freudenberger, 1975; Kafry & Pines, 1980; Pines & Kafry, 1978). Positive feedback, which is an important stress reliever in many situations, is scarce (Kafry & Pines, 1980; Pines & Kafry, 1978; Streepy, 1981). Coworkers and clinical supervisors who are already burned out are not a good source of camaraderie and social support. Staff meetings, which can provide a setting for this badly needed support, are often too technical and clinical to provide a break from the routine (Ursprung, 1986).
Because of the numerous regulations associated with most government agency administrations, individual autonomy is compromised and individual initiatives may be restricted (Cherniss, 1980; Kafry & Pines, 1980; Pines & Kafry, 1978; Raquepaw & Miller, 1989). Not only is the inability to exercise one's own judgements frustrating, but many service providers feel that funds are frequently allocated according to according to
1. As stated or indicated by; on the authority of: according to historians.
2. In keeping with: according to instructions.
3. political and statistical concerns, rather than in a manner that maximizes the efficiency with which services are delivered to the consumers (Edelwich & Brodsky, 1980).
Burnout has many undesirable consequences, among them stress-related psychosomatic psychosomatic /psy·cho·so·mat·ic/ (-sah-mat´ik) pertaining to the mind-body relationship; having bodily symptoms of psychic, emotional, or mental origin.
1. illness, social withdrawal, substance abuse and the deterioration of significant familial and personal relationships (Freudenberger, 1975; Maslach & Jackson, 1986). In addition, burned out workers have been shown to be more likely to neglect important aspects of their jobs (Quattrochi-Tubin, Jones & Breedlove, 1982), or to demonstrate faulty judgements that may impair the level of service that they provide to their consumers (McGee, 1989). The present study measured burnout in the employees of three human service agencies in northwestern North Carolina North Carolina, state in the SE United States. It is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean (E), South Carolina and Georgia (S), Tennessee (W), and Virginia (N). Facts and Figures
Area, 52,586 sq mi (136,198 sq km). Pop. , in an attempt to identify specific agencies for whose staff therapeutic interventions might be necessary.
Participants were recruited from the State Department of Social Services social services
welfare services provided by local authorities or a state agency for people with particular social needs
social services npl → servicios mpl sociales , JOBS Program (DSS (1) (Digital Signature Standard) A National Security Administration standard for authenticating an electronic message. See RSA and digital signature.
(2) (Digital Satellite S ), the State Division of Vocational Rehabilitation Noun 1. vocational rehabilitation - providing training in a specific trade with the aim of gaining employment
rehabilitation - the restoration of someone to a useful place in society , Unit Office (DVR (1) (Digital Video Recorder) A device that records video onto a hard disk from one or more ceiling mounted video cameras. Part of a security system, the DVR typically supports 4, 8 or 16 separate camera channels. ) and Goodwill Industries of Northwest North Carolina (GWI GWI Great Works Internet
GWI Guyana Water Inc
GWI General Wage Increase
GWI Grinding Wheel Institute
GWI Games Workshop Interactive
GWI Greenhouse Warming Index
GWI Greenwood International, Inc. ). These agencies provide their consumers with evaluation/assessment, counseling, case management, job skills training, job placement and work adjustment programming. In all three agencies, the primary objective of the service providers is to place their consumers in jobs. Surveys were sent to all people from these three agency offices whose activities included direct contact with consumers. Seventeen (77.3%) of the providers from DSS, 15 (71.4%) of the providers from DVR and 15 (75%) from GWI returned completed surveys and all were included in the study wherever possible. Of the 47 participants, 44 were caseworkers and 3 were administrators. A few participants' data could not be used for certain analyses, if the participants' race or consumer population type was unique, producing group size differences that invalidated in·val·i·date
tr.v. in·val·i·dat·ed, in·val·i·dat·ing, in·val·i·dates
To make invalid; nullify.
in·val some of the assumptions underlying the statistical analyses.
Burnout was assessed using the Maslach Burnout Inventory (MBI MBI Management Buy-In
MBI Moody Bible Institute
MBI Mathematical Biosciences Institute
MBI Modular Building Institute
MBI Mechanical Breakdown Insurance
MBI Molecular Biology Institute
MBI Maslach Burnout Inventory (psychometrics) ), which measures three largely independent aspects of burnout (Lee & Ashforth, 1990; Maslach & Jackson, 1981, 1986). The emotional exhaustion (EE) subscale corresponds to the psychological and physiological strain associated with the continual emotional involvement with one's consumers' situations. High scores on the EE subscale have been associated with tension, anxiety, physical fatigue and insomnia. The depersonalization depersonalization /de·per·son·al·iza·tion/ (de-per?sun-al-i-za´shun) alteration in the perception of self so that the usual sense of one's own reality is temporarily lost or changed; it may be a manifestation of a neurosis or another (DP) subscale measures the development of a cynical, dehumanizing attitude toward the consumers. High scores on the DP subscale indicate that the service provider has developed a coping strategy by which he/she attempts to limit the degree to which contact with the consumers drains his/her emotional energy by seeing the consumers as impersonal objects or numbers. The personal accomplishment (PA) subscale measures the service provider's perception of his/her own ability to control his/her situation, and to make a difference in his/her consumers' lives. In contrast to the other two subscales, low scores on the PA subscale indicate feelings of helplessness and underachievement on the part of the service provider.
Surveys were distributed to the respective human service providers either by regular mail (DSS and DVR) or intraagency mail (GWI). Participants were assured of their anonymity and asked to complete the MBI, as well as a personal information sheet (age, gender, race, job title, length of service in their present position and in the human service field in general, direct contact hours, hours spent on paperwork, caseload case·load
The number of cases handled in a given period, as by an attorney or by a clinic or social services agency.
Noun size and primary population served).
Results were analyzed using the Statistical Package for the Social Sciences--Personal Computer version. Either t tests or analysis of variance (Newman-Keuls post hoc post hoc
adv. & adj.
In or of the form of an argument in which one event is asserted to be the cause of a later event simply by virtue of having happened earlier: test) were used to evaluate the effects of gender, race or primary population served. The effects of age, length of service, caseload, and time spent in direct contact with consumers versus handling paperwork were determined by the Pearson product-moment correlation.
Results and Discussion
Among the consumer populations included in this study, working with people who are economically disadvantaged appeared to be the least emotionally draining (Table 1). The degree of emotional exhaustion associated with these consumers was slightly to moderately lower than that associated with the other consumer populations. More importantly, there was a tendency to depersonalize de·per·son·al·ize
tr.v. de·per·son·al·ized, de·per·son·al·iz·ing, de·per·son·al·iz·es
1. To deprive of individual character or a sense of personal identity: these consumers less than consumers with functional disabilities. It is interesting to note the difference in the patterns of EE and DP scores between the four service provider groups. Several researchers have suggested that depersonalization is a coping strategy which develops in response to the emotional exhaustion involved in serving these consumers, and helps minimize the emotional drain on the service provider (Maslach & Jackson, 1986). This suggestion is supported by the frequent finding of a positive correlation Noun 1. positive correlation - a correlation in which large values of one variable are associated with large values of the other and small with small; the correlation coefficient is between 0 and +1
direct correlation between EE and DP scores (Maslach & Jackson, 1986). A positive correlation was found between EE and DP scores in the present study as well (r=+0.61, p[less than].001). However, there was a moderate tendency to depersonalize consumers with physical disabilities, despite there being a low level of emotional exhaustion reported by these service providers. Although it is no doubt true that depersonalization serves as a coping strategy for the service provider, the data from the present study suggest the additional possibility that depersonalization may be an innate aspect of the service provider's response to consumers with overtly visible physical disabilities, independent of the degree of emotional exhaustion involved with serving them.
Table 1 Burnout Scores by Primary Consumer Population Emotional Exhaustion Depersonalization Physical 13.7 [+ or -] 4.0 6.0 [+ or -] 3.1 Disabilities low(*) moderate Emotional/ 23.3 [+ or -] 4.0 6.7 [+ or -] 6.7 Mental moderate moderate Disabilities Economically 11.8 [+ or -] 4.0 3.1 [+ or -] 2.0 Disadvantaged low low Mixed-Physical 19.1 [+ or -] 11.8 6.2 [+ or -] 5.2 Disabilities moderate moderate plus Economically Disadvantaged F(3,37) 3.7 2.3 p<.05 n.s. Personal Accomplishment Physical 38.3 [+ or -] 7.8 Disabilities high Emotional/ 43.0 [+ or -] 4.0 Mental high Disabilities Economically 39.7 [+ or -] 4.1 Disadvantaged high Mixed-Physical 35.1 [+ or -] 10.7 Disabilities moderate plus Economically Disadvantaged F(3,37) 1.4 n.s. Mean [+ or -] std. dev. (*) Versus norms for social service workers, Maslach & Jackson, 1986.
The size of the caseload did not have a significant effect on burnout in this study. In addition, the effect of quotas cannot be determined, because DVR was the only agency for which the service providers had objective quotas for the number of consumers placed in jobs per month. However, providers whose activities involved more direct contact with consumers and less paperwork reported a greater sense of personal accomplishment. The personal accomplishment scores showed a positive correlation with the number of direct contact hours per week (r=.3359, p[less than].05), and a negative correlation Noun 1. negative correlation - a correlation in which large values of one variable are associated with small values of the other; the correlation coefficient is between 0 and -1
indirect correlation with the number of paperwork hours per week (r=-0.2475, p=.059). There was also a negative correlation between the emotional exhaustion score and the length of time the provider had been in his/her position (r=0.267, p.05). This probably reflects a predictable tendency for those who do not get as emotionally exhausted to remain in their positions for longer periods of time.
There were no differences between female (n=34) and male (n=13) service providers with respect to either EE, DP or PA scores in the present study. Black (n=8) providers reported significantly lower EE scores than did white (n=37) providers [t(43)=2.34, p[less than].05]. In contrast, however, black providers also reported lower PA scores than did white providers [t(43)=1.8, p[less than].08]. It is difficult to apply any practical interpretation to these contradictory findings, especially given the small sample of black service providers available.
Identifying specific sources of burnout is important in designing detection/intervention programs that can best keep human service providers functioning well. The data from this study suggest two factors of potential importance. First, service providers who spent more time in direct contact with consumers and less time attending to paperwork had a greater sense of personal accomplishment. This suggests that it might be beneficial to shift some of the agencies' paperwork duties to clerical workers if possible, or that the effort to reduce paperwork that will be part of the emerging changes in the health care system should be applied to the human service fields as well. The other finding from the present study is that service providers tend to depersonalize consumers with overtly observable physical disabilities to a greater degree than consumers who do not have these disabilities. It would be of obvious interest to determine whether this is true of service providers in other agencies or geographic areas. If so, this would suggest that service providers who serve people with overtly visible physical disabilities should be made especially aware of the symptoms of depersonalization and of the need to guard against the tendency to depersonalize their consumers.
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loses innocence through WWI experience. [Am. Lit.: “The Killers”]
Angry Young Men
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Social work devoted to the needs of individual clients or cases.
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