Differences between burntout and non-burntout therapists of chronic and neurotic clients with respect to selected personality variables, level of stress, and level of job satisfaction

Thomas Alexander Vincent (1989)

With growing awareness of the devastating impact burnout can have on therapists' professional and personal lives, human service practicioners have become increasingly concerned about remediation and prevention strategies of burnout prone individuals. Two major aspects of burnout previously considered in the literature are the relationship of need deficiency and person-environment fit to burnout. However, there have been few studies which have utilized psychometric measures to examine these dimensions of the phenomenon of burnout. In addition, research on burnout has not adequately considered the conceptual link between burnout and stress. This study investigated the extent to which burntout and non-burntout therapists of neurotic and chronic clients differ on: the personality dimensions of achievement, aggression, autonomy and nurturance; level of work related stress; level of non-work related stress; and level of job satisfaction. The study examined 20 subjects classified as "burntout" and 20 classified as "non-burntout" selected from outpatient mental health settings. Within each of the two groups, there were 10 therapists who worked with chronic clients and 10 who worked with neurotic clients. Data were gathered by administering the following: a Survey/Screening Questionnaire, the Edwards Personal Preference Schedule, the Holmes/Rahe Stress Test, and the Maslach Burnout Inventory. Data included variable scores in the areas of achievement, aggression, autonomy, nurturance, level of work related stress, level of generalized stress, and level of job satisfaction. Twenty hypotheses were analyzed using ANOVA's for independent samples to determine the differences between the two groups with respect to the dependent variables. The findings indicated that the burnout group exhibited significantly (p $<$.05) higher work related stress scores and lower job satisfaction scores than the non-burnout group. With respect to those therapists who work with chronic clients, the burnout group scored significantly (p $<$.05) higher with regard to work related stress and lower with respect to job satisfaction. With respect to the group of therapists who work with neurotic clients, the burnout group scored significantly (p $<$.05) higher with regard to non-work related stress and lower with respect to achievement and autonomy. Recommendations were made that contribute to a better understanding of burnout, intervention strategies and directions for future research.