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Influence of Risk and Protective Factors on Burnout Experienced by Those Who Work with Maltreated Children

NCJ Number
Child Abuse Review Volume: 11 Issue: 5 Dated: September-October 2002 Pages: 313-331
Michelle Stevens; Daryl J. Higgins
Date Published
September 2002
19 pages
This study examined burnout and trauma symptoms, personal histories, and the use of coping strategies experienced by those who work with maltreated children.
The main point of this research was to assess the symptomatology of those who work with maltreated children. The authors tested four main hypotheses. First, the authors hypothesized that those workers who reported a personal history of maltreatment would experience burnout. The second hypothesis was that positive coping strategies would result in lower trauma and burnout levels. Hypothesis three stated that the family background characteristics of child maltreatment workers would predict reports of personal past maltreatment and, finally that the level of maltreatment experienced by workers would predict current trauma symptoms. In order to test these hypotheses, the authors asked 44 child maltreatment workers to complete questionnaires assessing any past personal childhood maltreatment, family background characteristics, current adjustment levels, possible coping strategies used on the job, and experiences of burnout on the job. Findings revealed that those workers who reported low levels of personal accomplishment experienced high levels of burnout. This finding compliments the finding that 100 percent of participants claimed to experience a high degree of emotional exhaustion from on-the-job pressures. The authors also discovered that, in support of their third hypothesis, family background characteristics predicted reported levels of personal childhood maltreatment in workers. However, their other hypotheses were not supported by this research. A personal history of childhood maltreatment was not associated with burnout on the job. Similarly, positive coping strategies were not associated with lower levels of trauma symptoms or lower levels of job burnout. In conclusion, the authors caution that the human services sector needs to pay attention to the aspects of this research that suggest these workers experience high levels of depersonalization on the job, low levels of personal achievement, emotional exhaustion, and trauma symptoms. References