The connection between illness representations of Alzheimer's disease and burnout among social workers and nurses in nursing homes and hospitals: a mixed-methods investigation Academic Article uri icon


  • Objective: To examine the relationship between Alzheimer's disease (AD) illness representations and burnout among social workers and nurses, based on the self-regulatory model. Method: A mixed-methods study was conducted. First, 327 social workers and nurses completed measures of cognitive and emotional representations, burnout (emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, lack of personal accomplishment), role variables, knowledge about AD, emotion-focused coping, problem-focused coping, and demographic and occupational characteristics. Second, interviews were conducted with eight social workers and nurses to uncover their perceptions about AD and their burnout experience. Results: Using structural equation modeling and controlling background variables, findings indicated that emotional representations were associated with burnout while only some of the cognitive illness representations were associated with burnout. While cognitive illness representations were associated directly to burnout, the association between emotional representations and burnout was mediated by emotion-focused coping. The trimmed model showed a good fit of the data and explained 32.2% of the variance in emotion-focused coping, 51% of the variance in emotional exhaustion, 37.7% of the variance in depersonalization, and 22.6% of the variance in lack of personal accomplishment. Interviews demonstrated that AD characteristics were perceived as affecting participants on both personal and professional levels; the participants expressed negative feelings towards AD and stated that these perceptions and feelings had led them to burnout. Conclusions: AD illness representations may be a risk factor for developing burnout. New directions for intervention programs, aiming to reduce burnout, should be examined.

publication date

  • January 1, 2016