Job satisfaction, burnout and turnover intention in occupational therapists working in mental health

Aust Occup Ther J. 2013 Oct;60(5):310-8. doi: 10.1111/1440-1630.12067. Epub 2013 Sep 1.


Background/aim: Employee wellbeing is an important issue for mental health services. Poor employee wellbeing (i.e., high levels of burnout or low job satisfaction) is associated with poorer consumer outcomes and higher staff turnover. This study set out to examine factors related to job satisfaction, turnover intention and burnout in a group of occupational therapists in mental health.

Method: Thirty-four occupational therapists (response rate approximately 60%) in a metropolitan public mental health service participated in a whole-of-service workforce survey. The survey included measures of job satisfaction, turnover intention, burnout, job hindrances, job challenges and job resources and questions about positive and negative aspects of positions and factors that attracted employees to their current position.

Results: Burnout was associated with lower job satisfaction and higher turnover intention. Higher job satisfaction was associated with rewards (remuneration and recognition) as well as cognitively challenging work. The variables most significantly associated with poorer wellbeing (higher turnover intention and burnout) were recipient contact demands (perception that contact with service users or families was demanding), and feelings of stress or fatigue.

Conclusion: This study provides a detailed analysis of factors associated with job satisfaction, turnover intention and burnout in a group of occupational therapists working in mental health. To promote workforce wellbeing and enhanced retention, interventions to minimise burnout should be implemented and evaluated. These strategies should focus on enhancing job resources such as supervisor support, feedback and participation in decision making as well as building the personal resilience of occupational therapists working in mental health.

Keywords: burnout; health personnel; professional; psychiatry; retention; surveys.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Burnout, Professional / epidemiology*
  • Burnout, Professional / psychology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Job Satisfaction*
  • Male
  • Mental Health Services / statistics & numerical data*
  • Middle Aged
  • Motivation
  • Occupational Therapy / psychology
  • Occupational Therapy / statistics & numerical data*
  • Personnel Turnover*