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South African Journal of Occupational Therapy

On-line version ISSN 2310-3833
Print version ISSN 0038-2337


DU PLESSIS, Theresa; VISAGIE, Surona  and  MJI, Gubela. The prevalence of burnout amongst therapists working in private physical rehabilitation centers in South Africa: a descriptive study. S. Afr. j. occup. ther. [online]. 2014, vol.44, n.2, pp.11-15. ISSN 2310-3833.

Health care service providers are at risk of burnout due to the nature of their jobs and their personalities. No research has been published on the prevalence and causes of burnout in therapists working in physical rehabilitation units in South Africa. This study aimed to determine the prevalence of burnout and identify causes in therapists working in physical rehabilitation in South Africa. A descriptive, quantitative study was done. Study participants comprised 49 therapists (14 occupational therapists, 13 physiotherapists, 7 therapy assistants, 4 social workers, 1 dietician, 5 speech therapists and 5 psychologists) from six private rehabilitation units in South Africa. No sampling was done. The prevalence of burnout was established with the Maslach Burnout Inventory Manual (MBI). Demographic and employment data were gathered through a questionnaire. MBI scores were categorised as high, moderate or low on the subscales of emotional exhaustion, depersonalisation and decreased personal accomplishment. The maximum likelihood and chi-squared tests were used for statistical analysis. A p value of <0.05 was deemed statistically significant. The prevalence of burnout was high: 57.14% suffered from emotional exhaustion, 20.40% from depersonalisation and 38.77% from decreased personal accomplishment. Not having children (p = 0.029), poor coping skills (0.031), an overwhelming workload (0.039),and poor work environment (0.021) had a statistically significant relationship with emotional exhaustion. An overwhelming patient load (0.012), seldom achievable deadlines (0.036), postponing contact with patients (0.02) and poor work environment (0.04) had a statistically significant relationship with depersonalisation. Male gender (0.023), not having children (0.038), less than four years of tertiary education (0.036), low income levels (0.022), high administration load (0.003) and postponing contact with patients (0.011) had a statistically significant relationship with personal accomplishment.Ensuring on-going support emotional support and job satisfaction of therapists is important if an institution is to provide continuing quality rehabilitation services.

Keywords : Burnout; therapists; physical rehabilitation.

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