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Clinician Burnout Reduces Efficacy of Trauma-Focused Psychotherapy

Findings seen among Veterans Affairs patients experiencing posttraumatic stress disorder symptoms

By Lori Solomon HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, April 23, 2024 (HealthDay News) — Therapist burnout is associated with reduced effectiveness of trauma-focused psychotherapies, according to a study published online April 17 in JAMA Network Open.

Nina A. Sayer, Ph.D., from the Center for Care Delivery and Outcomes Research at the Minneapolis Veterans Affairs Health Care System, and colleagues evaluated the association between clinician burnout and the outcomes of patients receiving guideline-recommended trauma-focused psychotherapies for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The analysis included survey responses from 165 licensed therapists and 961 of their patients with available outcome data.

The researchers found that 35.2 percent of therapists reported burnout and 34 percent of patients met criterion for clinically meaningful improvement. Clinically meaningful improvement in PTSD symptoms occurred in 28.3 percent of patients seen by therapists who reported burnout versus 36.8 percent of patients seen by therapists without burnout. Lower odds of clinically meaningful improvement were seen for patients of therapists experiencing burnout (adjusted odds ratio, 0.63). These results persisted when adjusting for dropout or session spacing.

“In this prospective cohort study, therapist burnout was associated with reduced effectiveness of trauma-focused psychotherapies,” the authors write. “Studying when and how burnout affects patient outcomes may inform workplace interventions.”

One author reported receiving royalties from Guilford Press.

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