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Publication date: 4 December 2017

Sabina Mazoruk, Adam Huxley, Camille Alexis-Garsee and Fabrizio Schifano

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.



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.


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.


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.


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.


Drugs and Alcohol Today, vol. 17 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1745-9265


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