A comparison of assertive community treatment case management and traditional case management on burnout and job satisfaction

Sara Lynne Boyer, Purdue University


Research suggests that burnout and low job satisfaction are significant problems among mental health workers and may be especially so among those working with clients with serious mental illness. This study examined burnout and job satisfaction among case managers working with such clients. It compared 119 case managers from Assertive Community Treatment (ACT) teams with 97 traditional case managers (TCM) working in Community Mental Health Centers in Indiana and Michigan. The findings supported the hypothesis that the type of case management structure (ACT vs TCM) would predict burnout and job satisfaction. Compared to TCM, ACT case managers reported significantly lower levels of burnout and higher levels of job satisfaction. The type of case management structure was also a better predictor than either case manager characteristics or caseload characteristics. Caseload characteristics were not related to burnout or job satisfaction for ACT, and only a single case manager characteristic (age) was correlated with burnout or job satisfaction. For TCM, however, burnout and decreased job satisfaction were related to the number of years that case managers had been in their current position, in their CMHC, and in the field of mental health, as well as the percentage of clients in the caseload who were drug abusers or who had a diagnosis of schizophrenia. The type of case management structure also predicted case managers' perception of the work environment. ACT reported significantly higher levels of shared responsibility and role clarity, and lower levels of perceived workload, work pressure, and workstyle compromise. All these perceptions were found to be related to lower burnout and increased job satisfaction. Although there were significant differences on burnout and job satisfaction, contrary to the study hypothesis, there was no significant difference between ACT and TCM in terms of their intent to leave their job. ^




Major Professor: Gary R. Bond, Purdue University.

Subject Area

Psychology, Clinical|Psychology, Industrial

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