Background: The first goal of this study was to assess longitudinal changes in burnout among psychotherapists prior to (T1) and during the COVID-19 pandemic (T2). The second objective was to assess the effects of job demands, job resources (including organizational support for evidence-based psychotherapies, or EBPs) and pandemic-related stress (T2 only) on burnout. Method: Psychotherapists providing EBPs for posttraumatic stress disorder in U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) facilities completed surveys assessing burnout, job resources, and job demands prior to (T1; n = 346) and during (T2; n = 193) the COVID-19 pandemic. Results: Burnout prevalence increased from 40 % at T1 to 56 % at T2 (p < .001). At T1, stronger implementation climate and implementation leadership (p < .001) and provision of only cognitive processing therapy (rather than use of prolonged exposure therapy or both treatments; p < .05) reduced burnout risk. Risk factors for burnout at T2 included T1 burnout, pandemic-related stress, less control over when and how to deliver EBPs, being female, and being a psychologist rather than social worker (p < .02). Implementation leadership did not reduce risk of burnout at T2. Limitations: This study involved staff not directly involved in treating COVID-19, in a healthcare system poised to transition to telehealth delivery. Conclusion: Organizational support for using EBPs reduced burnout risk prior to but not during the pandemic. Pandemic related stress rather than increased work demands contributed to elevated burnout during the pandemic. A comprehensive approach to reducing burnout must address the effects of both work demands and personal stressors.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
Dr. Rosen reported receiving grants from the U.S. Department of Defense and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs .
This work was supported by a U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs , Health Services Research & Development [ IIR-17-178 ]. The opinions presented are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the position of the U.S. Government or the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
Dr. Sayer is the PI of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Health Services Research and Development grant that supported this work.
Dr. Kehle-Forbes reported receiving grants from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute .
Dr. Wiltsey Stirman reported receiving grants from the U.S. National Institute of Mental Health and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research .
- Healthcare professionals
- Implementation climate
- Job demands-resources
PubMed: MeSH publication types
- Journal Article
- Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.