Supporting people with learning disabilities can be a stressful job. Previous studies have identified predictors of staff burnout but there is little consensus about the way these factors interact with each other, or their relative importance.
The researchers in this study looked at the direct and indirect associations between work stressors, emotional responses by staff, the social and organisational support resources available and staff burnout.
80 staff working in a community learning disability service took part. The study team administered a short survey examining client behaviour, staff psychological stress, anxiety, depression, social support, organisational support and burnout.
They found that the levels of burnout amongst the group levels were either similar to or slightly lower than would be expected for other groups working in human services. They found that depression symptoms and organisational support were related to emotional exhaustion and de-personalisation.
Having less social support was found to be related to less personal accomplishment. They found that symptoms of depression and low organisational support were found to be related to burnout symptoms.
However, it seemed that the worker’s personal and organisational supports helped to increase their sense of personal accomplishment which provided some buffer against the potential for emotional exhaustion.
Stress, depression, workplace and social supports and burnout in intellectual disability support staff, Mutkins E et al., in Journal of Intellectual Disability Research, 55: 500–510