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J Subst Abuse Treat. 2000 Sep;19(2):117-26.

Burnout in substance abuse counselors. Impact of environment, attitudes, and clients with HIV.

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  • 1Matrix Center, 12304 Santa Monica Boulevard, Suite, 90025, Los Angeles, CA, USA.


Due to associations between acquired immunodeficiency sydnrome (AIDS) and substance abuse, many substance abuse treatment counselors have clients with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)/AIDS. We assess the contribution of various hypothesized predictors of burnout among 134 substance abuse counselors working with clients with HIV/AIDS. Counselors reported practice-related variables, including support from coworkers and supervisors, caseload, percentage of HIV-positive clients, and whether they worked at a methadone clinic, and personal characteristics of job efficacy and education. The three burnout dimensions were emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, and personal accomplishment. Emotional exhaustion was significantly predicted by less support, less efficacy, and working in a methadone clinic. Depersonalization was predicted by less efficacy, less support, and working in a methadone clinic. Personal accomplishment was predicted by having a lower percentage of clients with HIV/AIDS, and more efficacy, support, and education. We present empirically based suggestions for interventions that can prevent or limit burnout.

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