Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Department of Psychology


Staff burnout is a significant problem for many social service agencies. The current research comprised three studies, which investigated the relationship between personal resources and the perceived external working environment for child protection workers, and then devised and evaluated an intervention to reduce burnout. An interactive model of personality characteristics and physical work environment variables was proposed. The first study examined the prevalence of burnout in a sample of 122 District Officers from the NSW Department of Community Services. Participants completed the Maslach Burnout Inventory, the Coping Resources Inventory and a modified form of the Work Environment Scale. Results indicated that the sample was highly Emotionally Exhausted, with moderate levels of Depersonalisation and Personal Accomplishment A combination of personal resources and work environment factors were found to be significant predictors of burnout. The second study entailed devising and evaluating a burnout prevention workshop based on the seven predictive variables. Results indicated that there was no significant difference within or between the treatment (𝑛=14) or control (𝑛=19) groups either before or following the intervention. Study three qualitatively analysed a discussion of these results by a focus group (𝑛=8) who had been participants in the intervention. Thematic analysis indicated that i) following the validation of their feelings during the workshop, they believed that they had rated their levels of burnout more accurately and higher following the workshop than they had prior to the workshop, and ii) participants felt that the workshop had been instrumental in promoting positive change that was not detected by the statistical analyses. Further themes and recommendations to assist in burnout prevention for child protection workers were also identified.



Unless otherwise indicated, the views expressed in this thesis are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the University of Wollongong.