Home > Effectiveness Bank Bulletin [Training to reduce burn-out amongst staff]

(2012) Effectiveness Bank Bulletin [Training to reduce burn-out amongst staff]. Drug and Alcohol Findings, 09 Aug,

PDF (Whole team training to reduce burn-out amongst staff on an in-patient alcohol ward)

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Whole team training to reduce burn-out amongst staff on an in-patient alcohol ward.
Hill R.G., Atnas C.I., Ryan P. et al. Journal of Substance Use: 2010, 15(1), p. 42–50.

Even more so than in a typical psychiatric ward, staff at a London inpatient alcohol treatment ward experienced high levels of stress and other indicators of the potential for 'burn-out'. Whole-team training seemed to help, reflected especially in feelings of greater competence in working with sometimes challenging and complex patients.

Occupational stress and burn-out are common among hospital and community-based mental health staff; staff working where aggression and violence occur are at particular risk. The Maslach Burn-out Inventory is a questionnaire often used to measure these variables. It assesses feelings of emotional exhaustion, depersonalisation, and personal accomplishment. The results confirm high levels of stress and strain among mental health professionals, yet very little empirical work has been undertaken on ways to counter this, and the few studies there are generally had a weak research design.

The featured report derives from the EU-funded OSCAR project (Occupational Stress with Mental Health Clients in Acute Response). In five European countries, this aimed to gather information on occupational stress and burn-out among mental health workers in acute psychiatric hospital and community settings, investigate the causes, and test ways to reduce the problem. The strategy was to work with whole staff teams in order to affect team culture and introduce and 'bed down' working practices aimed at stress reduction.

In Britain the project was implemented at a mixed-sex, 16-bed inpatient ward in south east England offering generally a 28-day programme including group and individual therapy and detoxification for adults dependent on alcohol. It averaged five admissions a week. The ward had 19 staff; three quarters were women and two thirds had worked on the ward for under three years. Only one recalled in-service training on dealing with stress.

These staff completed the Maslach Burn-out Inventory. Three months later, as a team they underwent a two-day stress-reduction training course, the impacts of which were assessed by repeating the inventory a month later. The two days of the training were separated by a fortnight. Day one focused on managing stress at the individual, team and organisational levels. Day two focused on understanding the causes and consequences of aggression, involving identifying typical antecedents of violence from a comprehensive perspective, including client-related, environmental, team, and organisational factors. The team was then helped to undertake a comprehensive risk assessment along with plans for implementing effective risk management strategies.

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