Master's Theses



Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


The main purpose of this study was to examine relationships between burnout and 13 intervention variables that have been proposed to prevent or alleviate burnout. Seven of these variables describe the behavior or personality characteristics of the human service worker (helper); six of the variables describe characteristics of the helper's support system. Hypothesis I of the study proposed that there is a relationship between each intervention variable and burnout such that higher values of the variable are associated with scores indicating lower levels of burnout. Hypothesis II was that a combination of all six support system variables discriminates between helpers in a high burnout category and helpers in a low burnout category better than any single support system variable and better than any combination of only some of these variables. The method involved administering a measure of the intervention variables and a measure of burnout to 88 teachers employed in the school district of a small Midwestern town. The measure of the intervention variables was prepared especially for the present study and was referred to as the Employee Attitudes Survey (EAS). Of the 13 EAS subscales, one subscale consisted of the items from the Frequency of Self-Reinforcement Questionnaire by Heiby (01/01/1982); another subscale consisted of the items from the Private Self-consciousness subscale of the Self-Consciousness Scale by Fenigstein, Scheier, and Buss (1975). The measure of burnout in the present study was the Maslach Burnout Inventory (MBl); this instrument measures three, factor analytically derived aspects of burnout (Emotional Exhaustion, Depersonalization, and Personal Accomplishment). The results of the study provided considerable support for Hypothesis I, but failed to confirm Hypothesis II. The results supportive of Hypothesis I were generally consistent with previous findings and extended the generality of previous findings inasmuch as they involved observed relationships between the intervention variables and a measure of burnout with three empirically derived factors ; these relationships provided support for the view that modifying the intervention variables can prevent or alleviate burnout . Although Hypothesis I was generally supported, considerably more helper characteristic variables than support system variables were related to burnout, suggesting the possibility that these two sets of variables may be differentially effective in preventing or alleviating burnout. Moreover, most intervention variables were related to one or two aspects of burnout and not to another; this finding suggests the possibility that most intervention strategies may impact on some aspects of burnout but not on others. That the intervention variables were differently related to the three aspects of burnout suggests the research utility of the MBI three-factor measure. Finally, the failure to confirm Hypothesis II indicated that the results of the present study provided no evidence for Pine's emphasis on the importance of differentiating all six of the support system functions.


Richard P. Schellenberg

Date of Award

Fall 1984

Document Type

Thesis - campus only access


© 1984 Stephen A. Jordon


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