BACKGROUND: Staff burnout is a critical issue for mental healthcare delivery, as it can lead to decreased work performance and, ultimately, to poorer treatment outcomes. AIMS: To explore the relative weight of job-related characteristics and perceived organisational factors in predicting burnout in staff working in community-based psychiatric services. METHOD: A representative sample of 2000 mental health staff working in the Veneto region, Italy, participated. Burnout and perceived organisational factors were assessed by using the Organizational Checkup Survey. RESULTS: Overall, high levels of job distress affected nearly two-thirds of the psychiatric staff and one in five staff members suffered from burnout. Psychiatrists and social workers reported the highest levels of burnout, and support workers and psychologists, the lowest. Burnout was mostly predicted by a higher frequency of face-to-face interaction with users, longer tenure in mental healthcare, weak work group cohesion and perceived unfairness. CONCLUSIONS: Improving the workplace atmosphere within psychiatric services should be one of the most important targets in staff burnout prevention strategies. The potential benefits of such programmes may, in turn, have a favourable impact on patient outcomes.
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