Workplace relationships and professional burnout among child life specialists
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[ACCESS RESTRICTED TO THE UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI AT REQUEST OF AUTHOR.] Certified child life specialists (CCLSs) work in children's hospitals to provide psychosocial support and education to pediatric patients and families undergoing stressful medical experiences. Job demands and characteristics of a CCLS often place them in contact with high levels of stress, emotions, and anxiety. One's social relationships at work play a role in determining one's overall well-being and levels of burnout. Because CCLSs work in a complex medical system, they are at risk for experiencing multiple interpersonal relationships, including with immediate supervisors, peer CCLSs, and non-child life coworkers. This study utilized the framework of the Social Exchange Theory (SET) to hypothesize that relationships with non-child life medical staff would have the greatest influence on CCLSs levels of professional burnout. Participants completed the Caplan Social Support Instrument and the Maslach's Burnout Inventory, and answered one open-ended question related to CCLS burnout. 214 certified child life specialists working in the United States were included in quantitative analyses. Overall social support in the workplace was significantly associated with lower levels of burnout. A positive relationship with one's direct supervisor was found to have the strongest negative association with levels of burnout, followed by peer CCLS relationships and non-child life medical staff relationships having smaller and similar influences. Qualitative analysis resulted in possible areas of concern for future child life research, including compensation and workload, and respect and understanding of the child life role by other medical professionals.
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