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Work stress, burnout, and social and personal resources among direct care workers.

Posted Feb 17 2011 7:24pm

No surprise, people who have jobs caring for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities face a lot of stress. A recent paper has looked into what causes and alleviates the stress for these workers.

Work stress, burnout, and social and personal resources among direct care workers.

Gray-Stanley JA, Muramatsu N.

School of Nursing and Health Studies, Northern Illinois University, 253 Wirtz Hall, DeKalb, IL 60115, United States.
Abstract

Work stress is endemic among direct care workers (DCWs) who serve people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Social resources, such as work social support, and personal resources, such as an internal locus of control, may help DCWs perceive work overload and other work-related stressors as less threatening and galvanize them to cope more effectively to prevent burnout. However, little is known about what resources are effective for coping with what types of work stress. Thus, we examined how work stress and social and personal resources are associated with burnout for DCWs. We conducted a survey of DCWs (n=323) from five community-based organizations that provide residential, vocational, and personal care services for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Participants completed a self-administered survey about their perceptions of work stress, work social support, locus of control, and burnout relative to their daily work routine. We conducted multiple regression analysis to test both the main and interaction effects of work stress and resources with respect to burnout. Work stress, specifically work overload, limited participation decision-making, and client disability care, was positively associated with burnout (p<.001). The association between work social support and burnout depended on the levels of work overload (p<.05), and the association between locus of control and burnout depended on the levels of work overload (p<.05) and participation in decision-making (p<.05). Whether work social support and locus of control make a difference depends on the kinds and the levels of work stressors. The findings underscore the importance of strong work-based social support networks and stress management resources for DCWs.

What adds to burnout? Work overload. Not being involved in decision making. Also, levels of client functioning, mobility, and intellectual abilities are a factor. If I read the paper correctly, levels of client functioning are a bigger factor than work overload.

Supervisor support and coworker support alleviated some of the stress and burnout.

The study concludes:

Policies or interventions developed as a result of this analysis might include strategies to foster work-based social support networks (i.e., team building efforts), as well as interventions to help workers develop personal stress management resources (Tierney, Quinlan, & Hastings, 2007). Successful protocols, once identified, can contribute to improved DCW job morale and ultimately better client care.

I don’t think stress and the sources of stress come as any great surprise. However, the more information available to make notions into supported facts, the better. If this can help caregivers and caregiver organizations support in reducing workload and adding methods to alleviate stress, so much the better for all. Especially the clients.

  1. Tweets that mention Autism Blog - Work stress, burnout, and social and personal resources among direct care workers. « Left Brain/Right Brain -- Topsy.com:
    [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Kev, christopher, jayashree Gurjar, Jayashree Gurjar, Mort DeTravail and others. Mort DeTravail said: Work stress, burnout, and social and personal resources among direct care workers.: A recent paper has looked in... http://bit.ly/h1Zeed [...]
  2. Casdok:
    As i am aware of this i use every oppourtunity i can to support staff. Staff are important.
  3. stanley seigler:
    [LBRB say] Supervisor support and coworker support alleviated some of the stress and burnout. for sure, for sure, as say the valley girl...and; as, if not more, important is support and involvement of parent/family...suggest DCWs (staff) are dear, special, friends (if not “miracle workers”) and not hired help...know it’s not applicable to those here...but there are those who treat DCWs as hired help... also, provider agencies must insure the DCWs are those who care...not those who can't get a job as a burger flipper...with poverty wages this is like fighting the “unbeatable foe”...but it has be the goal and it is achievable. stanley seigler

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