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Prevalence of somatisation as a determinant of burnout amongst staff working in drug and alcohol services

Sabina Mazoruk (Department of Psychology, Middlesex University, London, UK) (Department of Psychology, Spectrum CGL Drug and Alcohol Services, Hatfield, UK)
Adam Huxley (Department of Clinical Psychology, Spectrum CGL Drug and Alcohol Services, Hatfield, UK)
Camille Alexis-Garsee (Department of Psychology, Middlesex University, London, UK)
Fabrizio Schifano (University of Hertfordshire, Hatfield, UK)

Drugs and Alcohol Today

ISSN: 1745-9265

Article publication date: 4 December 2017

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to explore the prevalence of somatisation as a determinant of burnout amongst drug and alcohol staff in the UK.

Design/methodology/approach

The study employed a cross-sectional design utilising a self-completion online questionnaire. Data were collected from substance misuse workers across England and Wales. In total, 165 responses were eligible for analysis, yielding a response rate of 5 per cent. Burnout and somatization were measured with Maslach’s Burnout Inventory and the Physical Symptoms Inventory.

Findings

The prevalence of somatic symptoms was relatively low in the sample studied. The reported levels of burnout were moderate. Personal accomplishment remained high in the sample. There was a strong association between burnout and incidence of stress-related somatic symptoms, with higher levels of burnout correlating with multiple symptoms.

Research limitations/implications

It was not possible to determine the extent of non-response bias, as at the time of the study there was no information available relating to the characteristics of drug and alcohol staff in the selected services. Therefore, as the response rate was very low (5 per cent) it was recognised that non-response bias might have affected the findings, in such way that non-respondents may have differed in their experiences of work stress, satisfaction, burnout and health outcomes.

Practical implications

Despite the limitations, the study provided practical information relating to burnout vulnerability and associated physical symptoms in this specific occupational group. These findings can support employers to address staff wellbeing with a view to prevent burnout and reduce existing levels of burnout and related somatic symptoms, and improve job performance, job satisfaction and staff retention through making appropriate adjustments, such as developing staff-wellbeing programmes. These adjustments could potentially contribute to improvement in substance misuse practice, through maintenance of healthy and satisfied workforce.

Originality/value

There are very few studies looking at burnout in drug and alcohol staff. This study is also novel in a way that it reveals correlations between a variety of specific stress-related physical symptoms and the three components of burnout.

Keywords

Citation

Mazoruk, S., Huxley, A., Alexis-Garsee, C. and Schifano, F. (2017), "Prevalence of somatisation as a determinant of burnout amongst staff working in drug and alcohol services", Drugs and Alcohol Today, Vol. 17 No. 4, pp. 242-249. https://doi.org/10.1108/DAT-05-2017-0018

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited