Burnout within forensic psychiatric nursing: Its relationship with ward environment and effective clinical supervision?
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WHAT IS KNOWN ABOUT THIS SUBJECT?: Burnout is a prominent issue in psychiatric nursing and associated with significant adverse consequences for staff, service users and at an organizational level. Exploration of the extent and predictors of burnout in secure settings has received little research attention. It is not fully understood why prevalence rates of burnout in forensic settings are not elevated in comparison to other settings, despite the presence of known risk-related correlates. WHAT THIS PAPER ADDS TO EXISTING KNOWLEDGE?: In contrast to previous research, findings suggest that clinical supervision may not be an effective, stand-alone intervention to support staff experiencing burnout. Thus, the current focus on clinical supervision to mitigate burnout may be insufficient in forensic services. The ward environment (specifically how safe staff feel, how therapeutic the ward feels and how well service users relate to one another) was found to be more important than clinical supervision in terms of burnout for forensic psychiatric nursing staff. WHAT ARE THE IMPLICATIONS FOR PRACTICE?: Policies regarding staff health and well-being should be developed with due consideration given to the association between burnout and the working environment. It should not be assumed that clinical supervision is sufficient to mitigate burnout in practice. Further research assessing all types of support and the ward environment is needed to gain a better understanding of its relationship to burnout. ABSTRACT: Introduction Despite extensive research examining burnout in psychiatric nursing staff, literature exploring key predictors of burnout in secure psychiatric settings has been relatively neglected. Research has yet to explore burnout in these settings by adopting previously identified predictors such as support or the ward environment. Aim The current study aimed to reduce this gap by exploring burnout, the perceived effectiveness of clinical supervision and ward environment. Method In 2014, nursing staff working in a medium secure forensic psychiatric unit in the United Kingdom (N = 137) provided demographic information and completed the measures assessing: Burnout, clinical supervision and the ward environment. Results Approximately 10% of nursing staff could be classed as "burnt-out". The main predictors of burnout were age and ward environment. Clinical supervision had minimal association with burnout. Discussion The current study sheds doubt on clinical supervision as a potential intervention for burnout and results appear comparable to research within other settings. The implications of the ward environment, supervision and burnout are discussed herein. Implication for Practice Interventions may need to focus on a positive ward environment (including patient cohesion, experienced safety and enhancing the therapeutic atmosphere). Organizations should support younger nursing staff as they appear particularly vulnerable to burnout.