Burnout, Role Ambiguity, and Coping Among MSW Students in Field Placement

Mary Powell, Fordham University

Abstract

Burnout is a common problem in practicing social workers. This study investigated the effect of burnout, role ambiguity and coping strategies among graduate social work students in field placement. This was accomplished through the usage of the Maslach Burnout Inventory Human Services Survey (MBI-HSS), the Role Conflict and Role Ambiguity Inventory (RCRAI), and the Brief COPE. Eight research questions were tested that focused on the following: the overall levels of burnout that consisted of the subscales emotional exhaustion, depersonalization and personal accomplishment, field intern demographic variables’ prediction of the subscales of the MBI-HSS, the RCRAI role ambiguity subscale’s prediction of the subscales of the MBI-HSS, the Brief COPE’s prediction of the subscales of the MBI-HSS, and the Brief COPE’s prediction of the relationship between the RCRAI role ambiguity subscale and the subscales of the MBI-HSS. The inventory was sent out electronically, and 203 interns filled out the survey. Field interns were in their Foundation, Clinical, or Track B phases. Foundation students were considered first-year and conducting a variety of services in their field placements. Clinical students were considered second-year and conducting clinical services in their field placements. Track B students were considered second-year and conducting a combination of clinical and administrative services in their field placements. The findings suggested that compared to normative data, the sample of students could not be said to be experiencing significant levels of burnout. Age predicted the three subscales of the MBI-HSS. Younger students were more likely to experience burnout than older students. Role ambiguity predicted all three subscales of the MBI-HSS. Students experiencing role ambiguity were significantly more likely to experience burnout than those not experiencing role ambiguity. Results also indicated that the emotion-focused subscale of the Brief COPE predicted all three subscales of the MBI-HSS and that problem-focused coping predicted the personal accomplishment subscale. Students using problem-focused coping strategies were more likely to experience emotional exhaustion and depersonalization. Students using emotion-focused coping strategies were less likely to experience all three dimensions of burnout. Both problem-focused and emotion-focused strategies were associated with personal accomplishment. Implications are offered for the fostering of skills and hardiness in social work field interns, to help them acquire a more comprehensive grasp of avoiding stress and burnout in their future careers since they are common in the profession, as well as understanding role ambiguity and coping strategies to advance well-being and professional longevity.^

Subject Area

Social work|Psychology|Higher education

Recommended Citation

Powell, Mary, "Burnout, Role Ambiguity, and Coping Among MSW Students in Field Placement" (2018). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI10684024.
https://fordham.bepress.com/dissertations/AAI10684024

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