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Eat Disord. 2012;20(3):175-95. doi: 10.1080/10640266.2012.668476.

A qualitative analysis of job burnout in eating disorder treatment providers.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, University of Nevada, Las Vegas, 4505 Maryland Parkway, Las Vegas, NV 89154, USA.


Although job burnout is common in mental health care settings, almost no research has examined burnout in eating disorder treatment providers. Using qualitative methodology, this study examined a) perceived contributors of burnout, b) efforts to manage burnout, and c) recommendations for avoiding burnout in a sample of professional eating disorder treatment providers. Recruited via professional organizations, 298 participants completed an online questionnaire designed by the authors. Qualitative responses were coded and grouped into themes. Results indicated that almost all participants worried about their patients' health, which frequently resulted in negative affect (e.g., anxiety, sadness). The most frequently cited contributors to burnout were common characteristics of eating pathology (e.g., chronicity, relapse, symptom severity); patient characteristics (e.g., personality conflict); work-related factors (e.g., time demands); and, financial issues (e.g., inadequate compensation). To avoid burnout, over 90% of participants engaged in self-care behaviors (e.g., exercise, social support). Early-career practitioners were encouraged to utilize supervision, create a work/life balance, engage in self-care, and limit caseloads. These results suggest that supervision and training of eating disorder treatment providers should include burnout management.

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