Experiences of burnout and coping strategies utilized by occupational therapists

Can J Occup Ther. 2012 Apr;79(2):86-95. doi: 10.2182/cjot.2012.79.2.4.


Background: Work-related stress and burnout have been found to lead to job dissatisfaction, low-organizational commitment, absenteeism, and high turnover.

Purpose: The purpose of this study was to examine the burnout experiences of occupational therapists practicing in Ontario and to describe the practice implications and coping strategies employed.

Methods: Data for this mixed methods study were collected using the Maslach Burnout Inventory-General Survey, Areas of Worklife Survey, focus groups, and interviews in the hermeneutics tradition.

Findings: High levels of emotional exhaustion were reported by 34.8% of participants, high levels of cynicism by 43.5%, and low professional efficacy by 24.6%. Practice issues included excessive demands on time, conflict, and lack of autonomy and respect. Coping strategies included spending time with family and maintaining professional/personal balance, control of work responsibilities, maintaining a sense of humor, and self-awareness/self-monitoring.

Implications: This study contributes to understanding the practice challenges for occupational therapists, factors that contribute to therapist burnout, and strategies employed to maintain competent practice.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological*
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Burnout, Professional / etiology*
  • Burnout, Professional / psychology
  • Female
  • Focus Groups
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Occupational Therapy / psychology*
  • Ontario
  • Professional Autonomy
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Time Factors
  • Workload / psychology
  • Workplace / psychology