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Soc Psychiatry Psychiatr Epidemiol. 2007 Oct;42(10):794-802. Epub 2007 Aug 13.

Sources of stress and burnout in acute psychiatric care: inpatient vs. community staff.

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Nordland Hospital Trust, 8092, Bodø, Norway.



Professionals who work alone or in small teams often provide services for people with serious mental health problems in community settings. Stress is common in community teams and this may cause burnout and threaten the quality and stability of the services. This study compares levels of burnout and sources of stress among community and acute ward staff in six European centres.


A total of 6 acute ward (N = 204) and community staff (N = 209) in 5 different European countries filled out the Maslach Burnout Inventory (MBI), the Mental Health Professional Scale (MHPSS) the Agervold Questionnaire for psychosocial work environment (QPWES) in addition to a comprehensive demographic questionnaire.


In the univariate analyses, except for Emotional Exhaustion (MBI), there were no differences in burnout between the two groups of staff. Community teams reported more organisational problems, higher work demands, less contact with colleagues, but also better social relations and more control over their work. The ward staff was more satisfied with the organisational structure and access to colleagues, but complained about lack of control over operating conditions at work. The multivariate analyses identified four groups of staff: (1) a Control-dissatisfied and Contact satisfied group (N = 184) with 2/3 coming from the wards. (2) A Contact-satisfied and Work-demand dissatisfied group (N = 147) with (3/4) from the community staff. (3) A Control- and Contact dissatisfied group (N = 47) with a majority from community teams, and (4) a Contact- and Work demand satisfied group (N = 37) with a majority from the wards.


Burnout as measured was not a serious problem among community and ward staff members, and did not differentiate between the two groups. Acute ward working implied lack of control but much contact with colleagues, whereas community work entailed more control but demanding work in terms of difficult task and hard-to-find-solutions.

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