Understanding burnout and mental well-being in healthcare staff

  • Gemma Mullan

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


This thesis comprises of two research projects exploring burnout among health care professionals. The first project is a systematic review focusing on the risk and protective factors associated with burnout, for staff working within palliative care. A combination of occupation and individual determinates were identified. Occupational risk factors included work environment, working pattern (e.g. working longer than 50 hours per week and working weekends and nights), and team dynamics. Attachment style and attitudes toward death were possible individual risk determinants, whilst sociodemographic factors were inconclusive. Importantly, having variety within one’s work and engaging in hobbies served as protective factors against burnout.

The second research project aimed to build an understanding of the role psychological flexibility plays, within mental well-being and burnout, for health care staff working in mental health. A cross-sectional study was carried out involving 88 mental health employees working directly with service users. It was found that psychological flexibility accounted for additional variance in well-being and two burnout factors (emotional exhaustion and depersonalisation). Personal accomplishment also made a significant contribution to well-being, over and above psychological flexibility. These findings suggest that psychological flexibility should be considered when designing well-being and burnout interventions. Future studies could explore factors related to personal accomplishment to enhance understanding of this construct.
Date of AwardDec 2019
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Queen's University Belfast
SupervisorMartin Dempster (Supervisor) & Pauline Adair (Supervisor)

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