The Relationship Between Interdisciplinary Team Cohesion and Burnout in Cognitive Rehabilitation

Date

August 2021

Authors

Cassill, Carolyn Kuniko

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Abstract

BACKGROUND: The healthcare system at large is currently experiencing unprecedented amounts of burnout (Jalili et al., 2021; Reith, 2018). Researchers are working to identify risk and protective factors (Cañadas-De la Fuente et al., 2015; Seidler et al., 2014) of burnout that might be used as points of intervention (Awa et al., 2010; Demerouti, 2015). One potential protective factor of burnout that has not been explored is interpersonal team cohesion of the interdisciplinary team. (Hellyar et al., 2019). The purpose of this study was to determine if interpersonal team cohesion was inversely related to burnout in healthcare providers. METHODS: Emails and flyers with links to an online survey were sent to direct care staff in a cognitive rehabilitation setting. The convenience sample included 53 participants who completed the survey. Participants answered questions regarding burnout, interpersonal team functioning, depression, anxiety, and stress. Demographic variables associated with burnout were also included (Cañadas-De la Fuente et al., 2015; Shanafelt et al., 2015). RESULTS: Twenty-six participants reported symptoms consistent with burnout. All of these participants endorsed experiencing emotional exhaustion, but no one endorsed experiencing depersonalization or diminished professional accomplishment. As such, all analyses used emotional exhaustion to examine burnout. Multiple regression was used to determine if interpersonal team cohesion predicted emotional exhaustion. While the overall model was significant (F (6,42) = 12.55, p < .001, R2 = .64), only stress ( = 0.68, p < .001) and depression ( = 0.34, p = .047) were significant predictors of emotional exhaustion. Further analysis revealed that interpersonal team cohesion did significantly predict emotional exhaustion, but only with stress included as a partial mediator. CONCLUSIONS: The hypothesis that interpersonal team cohesion and burnout were inversely related to each other proved to be an oversimplification. Results of this study show that stress serves as a partial mediator between interpersonal functioning of interpersonal team cohesion and burnout, with lower team cohesion resulting in higher stress, which in turn results in higher levels of burnout. This implies that both interpersonal functioning of the interdisciplinary team and stress can be used as points of intervention for reducing or preventing burnout.

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