Challenging behaviour in people with learning disabilities often puts the safety of the person or others around them in jeopardy and can have an impact on the person’s quality of life.
The authors of this study set out to explore the relationship between the way in which staff perceive challenging behaviour and staff burnout. They point out that whilst some evidence exists of this relationship, a number of variables may act as mediators.
The researchers asked 78 staff in services for people with learning disabilities and challenging behaviour to complete questionnaires which included measures of burnout, challenging behaviour and perceptions about such behaviour.
The questions explored beliefs about the timeline of behaviour, perceptions of whether staff had control over the behaviour, beliefs about clients’ ability to control behaviour and staff’s negative emotional responses.
They found positive correlations between challenging behaviour and burnout, challenging behaviour and cognitive variables, and cognitive variables and burnout. The analysis of the results showed negative emotions did in fact mediate the relationship between challenging behaviour and burnout.
The authors conclude that their findings add to the body of evidence suggesting a direct relationship between challenging behaviour and burnout in staff and that this is mediated by negative emotion: the fear of potential assault.
The relationship between challenging behaviour, burnout and cognitive variables in staff working with people who have intellectual disabilities, Mills, S. and Rose, J in Journal of Intellectual Disability Research, 55: 844–857