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Title: Resilience and burnout in child protection social work
Author: McFadden, Paula Martina
Awarding Body: University of Ulster
Current Institution: Ulster University
Date of Award: 2013
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Background: Child protection social work is acknowledged as a stressful career. Retaining experience in child protection teams has been a major issue due to staff turnover. In the current economic climate, with job alternatives scarce due to a freeze on recruitment, retention of staff may be undesirable. This creates a situation of individuals with the potential of being burnt out, delivering a critical function of social work. This may impact negatively on not only the well-being of staff but also the quality of the service they provide. Aims and Objectives: The overarching aim of this study is to examine the factors that contribute to resilience and burnout in the child protection workforce in Northern Ireland. The objectives are to identify the protective factors that sustain resilience in some staff and also to identify and measure aspects of burnout and resilience within this workforce. Organizational contexts are examined from the perspective of job engagement or burnout to measure the perceived impact of workload, values, community, equity, control and reward. Demographic variables are also identified. A systematic literature review was conducted and places the findings in Northern Ireland in the context of other studies from an international perspective. The results may influence policy and procedures regarding the recruitment and retention of child protection social workers. Methodology: Mixed methodology included the use of quantitative and quatitative methods at the data collection and data analysis stages of the study. Cross sectional survey design was used for a quantitative questionnaire that included psychometric tests to measure aspects of burnout, resilience, organizational factors and demographic variables. Qualitative semistructured interviews were conducted with 15 "Leavers" and 15 "Stayers". The five Northern Ireland Health and Social Care Trusts participated in the study as well as a voluntary sector child protection organization. The response rale for the quantitative part of the study was 43% and there were n=162 respondents. Data Analysis: The quantitative data was analysed using SPSS version 17. Correlations and multiple regression analysis were used to examine the data. Interviews were transcribed and input into Nvivo 9 in preparation for thematic analysis. Results: The results show that workload is a predictor of burnout and that manager and peer supports are associated with resilience. Resilience is both intrapersonal, relying on the specific characteristics of individuals, and interpersonal due to the quality of relationships with significant others in the organizational context. Organizational culture and climate are important contextual factors that impact on workers desire to stay or leave. The quantitative results were reinforced by the qualitative findings from the qualitative interviews. Conclusion: Interventions to ameliorate the current issues within child protection social work require an overview of the social work career from pre-training all the way though to employment and beyond. Employers need to consider issues such as workload, quality management support and supervision, positive team support and the wider organizational culture and climate which all impact on workforce resilience or burnout.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available