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

Res Dev Disabil. 2011 May-Jun;32(3):1065-74.
Authors: Gray JA, Muramatsu N.

From the accepted, unedited manuscript:

Work stress is endemic among direct care workers 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 direct care workerss 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 direct care workers.

We conducted a survey of direct care workerss (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 direct care workers.

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