Predictors of dropout and burnout in AIDS volunteers: A longitudinal study

M. W. Ross, S. A. Greenfield, L. Bennett

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54 Scopus citations


Burnout among HIV/AIDS volunteers contributes to the loss of dedicated personnel resulting in strain on the HIV/AIDS care system. Past research has suggested that there were significant stresses and burnout associated with AIDS caregiving. We investigated the predictors of dropout in AIDS volunteers over time, and specifically which of the variables of the stressors and rewards of being a volunteer (collected at baseline) predicted who would drop out two years later. The volunteers were the subjects of Nesbitt et al., who were members of an interfaith religious-based organization in Houston, Texas. The subjects were re-contacted by mail after two years, and 76 of the 174 respondents completed a brief questionnaire which gave details of current volunteering activity, reasons for dropout (if they had dropped out) and completed the Texas Revised Inventory of Grief (TRIG). Forty dropped-out from volunteering while 36 continued. Data show the independent variables of total stressor score, the Maslach Burnout Inventory score of Depersonalization intensity and the three subscale scores involving stress: client problems and role ambiguity, emotional overload and organizational factors as being significant in predicting dropout in HIV/AIDS volunteers over time. The best predictors of the dropping-out of HIV/AIDS volunteers can be divided into the stresses (client problems and role ambiguity, emotional overload and organizational factors) and depersonalization intensity. The results showed that volunteers who experienced more client problems and role ambiguity, more emotional overload and more problems with organizational factors are more likely to drop out from the volunteer programme. They also show that the dropout volunteers have a significantly higher level of depersonalization intensity than the continuing volunteers, with the risk of dropout increasing by almost a third in the highest tertile of depersonalization intensity scorers compared with those with lower scores. These data indicate that it is the stressors of AIDS volunteering, including the intensity, of depersonalization, which lead to dropout, and that rewards do not appear to have a protective effect.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)723-731
Number of pages9
JournalAIDS Care - Psychological and Socio-Medical Aspects of AIDS/HIV
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1999


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