Research on burnoutamong providers of psychosocial assistance and support to people affected by the war
Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine is accompanied by a large number of traumatic events for the population. It is worth noting that the aggressor directs military actions not only against military facilities, but also against the civilian population, making it the main target for information and physical attacks. As a result, the number of people in need of psychosocial support and assistance is increasing. However, the number of specialists is not increasing, which requires the involvement of volunteers. At the same time, both employees and volunteers are also in a constant stressful environment due to the hostilities.
The purpose of the research of burnout among psychosocial service providers was to determine the level of burnout among employees and volunteers who provide psychosocial assistance and support to war victims, as well as to identify possible ways to prevent this condition.
The reaserch of burnout among psychosocial service providers was conducted from January to May 2023 among participants of the training “Prevention of emotional burnout in specialists of auxiliary professions during the war” by the International Center for Development and Leadership.
To study the burnout of professionals and volunteers who work with clients who have been victims of traumatic events, including war, and continue to experience emotional stress, we used B. Stamm’s “Professional Quality of Life” approach.
THIS APPROACH ASSUMES THAT THE OUTCOME OF HELPING A CLIENT WHO IS EXPERIENCING TRAUMATIC EVENTS IS EITHER COMPASSIONATE SATISFACTION OR COMPASSION FATIGUE.
Compassionate satisfaction is a positive state of an employee/volunteer that is reflected in satisfaction with their own work and the joy of being able to help others. When the functions performed by a psychosocial care and support provider cause negative emotional states, this phenomenon is called compassion fatigue.
Compassion fatigue includes:
Secondary traumatic stress occurs as a result of empathy for traumatic events that occur with the client and is manifested by the experience of symptoms in the specialist/volunteer similar to those observed in clients.
Burnout is a syndrome that occurs as a result of prolonged stress at work that has not been managed and has three main components:
Emotional exhaustion: the level of exhaustion and fatigue caused by work
Depersonalization: the level of alienation and cynicism towards other people
Reduction of personal achievement: the level of feeling of incapability and inadequately low evaluation of one’s own work performance.
SAMPLE OF THE RESEARCH
The study involved 52 respondents, but 12 of them were excluded from the sample because they did not provide psychosocial assistance to war victims. Thus, the final sample consisted of 40 respondents, including 23 employees and 17 volunteers.
The gender distribution: 34 people were women, 6 people were men.
As for the age distribution of respondents, it was found that they are 18 years old and older.
Those who have education in the field of psychosocial services: volunteers – 47.1%, and employees – 65.2%.
“Professional Quality of Life Scale” (ProQoL)
Maslach Burnout Inventory (K. Maslach, S. Jackson, adapted by N. Vodopianova)
COMPARING THE RESULTS OF EMPLOYEES AND VOLUNTEERS
Using the “Professional Quality of Life Scale” (ProQoL) methodology, it was found that among employees (69.6%), the percentage of people without burnout is 4.9% higher than among volunteers (64.7%). Employees (30.4%) have a 4.9% lower percentage of people with moderate burnout than volunteers (35.3%).
The results obtained with the help of the Maslach Burnout Inventory methodology are as follows: among employees (56.5%), 9.4% more people are without burnout compared to volunteers (47.1%), 13.8% more volunteers (52.9%) experience burnout at an average level compared to employees (39.1%). However, 4.3% of employees have a high level of burnout, while among volunteers this figure is 0%, which is explained by the fact that among employees there are respondents in managerial positions whose job responsibilities include increased responsibility.
SECONDARY TRAUMATIC STRESS
REDUCTION OF PERSONAL ACHIEVEMENTS
Volunteers have by 29.4% higher average level of traumatic stress (64.7%) compared to employees (35.3%).
Analyzing the data on the reduction of personal achievements, the following indicators can be noted: 29.4% of volunteers have a low level, 58.8% have a medium level, and 11.8% have a high level; 13% of employees have a low level, 69.6% have a medium level, and 17.4% have a high level. 16.4% of volunteers have reduction in personal achievements on a low level, while employees have a higher rate of this phenomenon by 10.8% at the medium level and by 5.6% at the high level. Thus, volunteers have a lower level of reduction of personal achievements than employees.
THE IMPACT OF SUPERVISION ON BURNOUT AND SECONDARY TRAUMATIC STRESS
According to the “ProQoL” methodology, it was found that respondents who regularly attend supervision demonstrate by 23.3% higher rates of absence of burnout and by 26.7% lower rates of secondary traumatic stress compared to those who have experience of attending or do not attend supervision at all.
According to the “Maslach Burnout Inventory” methodology, respondents who regularly attend supervision have by 30.3% higher rates of absence of burnout, by 26.7% lower rates of high level emotional exhaustion, and 30% lower rates of medium level emotional exhaustion compared to those who do not attend supervision at all.
The following diagrams present the assessments of respondents who have experience with supervision and are able to evaluate this tool in terms of its effectiveness in resolving problematic professional situations and providing emotional support to them as professionals. The assessments were made on a scale from 0 to 5, where 5 means the highest efficiency and 0 means unsatisfactory efficiency.
The results indicate that supervision is highly effective as a tool to help solve problematic professional situations. According to the data, 97.1% of participants rated supervision with the highest scores of “5” and “4”. A small percentage of participants (2.9%) chose the score of “3”, which indicates that supervision is less effective for them.
The results also show the high effectiveness of supervision as an instrument of emotional support for specialists, with 93.8% of respondents choosing the highest scores of “5” and “4”, and 6.3% choosing “3”.
SUMMARY. OVERALL RESULTS
The results of the study showed that volunteers are a more vulnerable group than employees. According to the “ProQoL” methodology, employees have a 4.9% lower percentage of people with burnout at the average level than volunteers. According to the “Diagnostics of Professional Burnout” methodology, 13.8% more volunteers experience moderate burnout compared to employees. However, there is a significant number of people with moderate burnout among both groups, which confirms the problem of burnout among providers of psychosocial care and support.
Volunteers have a higher average level of traumatic stress by 29.4%, which indicates that they are less prepared to deal with emotionally difficult information and, as a result, more traumatized. As for employees, they have a higher rate of reduction of personal achievements by 10.8% at the medium level and 5.6% at the high level compared to volunteers. This is likely due to the presence of professional consciousness, a complex system of ideas about the content and expected results of professional interventions, as well as professional ethics among workers, and thus higher expectations for their own activities.
Supervision is an effective tool for preventing and combating burnout, as the results of this study show. Regular and periodic visits to supervision help to reduce negative emotional phenomena related to work. In particular, the absence of burnout in the group of people who attend supervision is by 23.3% higher (according to the “ProQoL” methodology), by 30.3% higher (according to the “Maslach Burnout Inventory” methodology), and by 26.7% lower the secondary traumatic stress rate compared to those who only have experience of attending or do not attend supervision at all.
General data confirm the effectiveness of supervision as a burnout prevention tool. The majority of respondents evaluate supervision as an effective tool for solving problematic professional situations (97.1%), as well as a tool for emotional support of their professional development (93.8%).