Burnout After Patient Death: Challenges for Direct Care Workers

TitleBurnout After Patient Death: Challenges for Direct Care Workers
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2017
AuthorsBoerner, K, Gleason, H, Jopp, D
JournalJournal of Pain and Symptom Management
Date Published09/2017
Keywordsbereavement, Burnout dimensions, caregiving, direct care staff, employment outcome, grief, homecare workers, nursing assistants, patient death

Context: Direct care workers in long-term care can develop close relationships with their patients and subsequently experience significant grief after patient death. Consequences of this experience for employment outcomes have received little attention.
Objectives: To investigate staff, institutional, patient, and grief factors as predictors of burnout dimensions among direct care workers who had experienced recent patient death; determine which specific aspects of these factors are of particular importance; and establish grief as an independent predictor of burnout dimensions.
Methods: Participants were 140 certified nursing assistants and 80 homecare workers who recently experienced patient death. Data collection involved comprehensive semistructured in-person interviews. Standardized assessments and structured questions addressed staff, patient, and institutional characteristics, grief symptoms and grief avoidance, as well as burnout dimensions (depersonalization, emotional exhaustion, and personal accomplishment).
Results: Hierarchical regressions revealed that grief factors accounted for unique variance in depersonalization, over and above staff, patient, and institutional factors. Supervisor support and caregiving benefits were consistently associated with higher levels on burnout dimensions. In contrast, coworker support was associated with a higher likelihood of depersonalization and emotional exhaustion.
Conclusion: Findings suggest that grief over patient death plays an overlooked role in direct care worker burnout. High supervisor support and caregiving benefits may have protective effects with respect to burnout, whereas high coworker support may constitute a reflection of burnout.

Short TitleBurnout After Patient Death