Jane M. Bacon


The syndrome of burnout, which involves negative emotional, psychological, and physical reactions to continuous, work-related stress, is becoming a widely-recognized job hazard for employees in health care settings. The main objective of this retrospective and descriptive study was to investigate the effect of weekly or biweekly, clinical, problem-solving supervision on the following symptoms of burn out on psychiatric/mental health nurses: absenteeism, job turnover rate, job performance ratings. The sample consisted of two groups of psychiatric/mental health nurses who were employees of a major midwestern, private psychiatric treatment facility. The problem was to determine whether the occurrence or reduction of the symptoms of burn out would be related to having received supervision, either individual or a combination of group and individual supervision. This was stated in the null hypothesis as follows:

  1. There will be no significant (α=.05) difference in levels of absenteeism...

  2. There will be no significant (α=.05) difference in levels of job turnover rate...

  3. There will be no significant (α=.05) difference in levels of job performance ratings...

...among psychiatric/mental health nurses who received one hour weekly or biweekly clinical, problem-solving supervision over a two-year period as compared to those who did not receive such supervision.

A second objective was to measure levels of burnout and job satisfaction in currently-employed psychiatric/mental health nurses.

This study used the retrospective comparison method with three criterion variables: (1) absenteeism, (2) job turnover rate, and (3) job performance ratings, which were measured over two 12-month periods (1973~1974) prior to and two 12-month periods (1978-1979) after the variate variable, the above specified supervision, was introduced.

In the descriptive portion of the study measurement of the levels of burnout and job satisfaction were reported. A convenience sample of currently-employed psychiatric/mental health nurses who volunteered to participate were selected if they had received a minimum of two years of problem-solving supervision. A convenience sample of previously employed psychiatric/mental health nurses was selected based on avail ability of employee records that were complete with data. All participating, currently-employed nurses signed a consent form, gave permission for data to be gathered from their employee records, and completed a demographic and attitudinal questionnaire, a test to measure burnout, and a test to measure job satisfaction.

The mean number of days absent per month were compared for (1) only individual supervision (N=7), and (2) the combination of individual and group supervision (N=22), and compared to the non-supervised group (N=19) using Student's t-tests.

The number of annual leave days per year was significantly ( .01) lower in the non-supervised (1973-1974) group as compared to the group who received only individual supervision. There was no significant difference between (1) the non-supervised and supervised groups and (2) the two supervised groups (i.e., those who received only individual supervision compared to those who received a combination of individual and group supervision) for all other categories of days absent from work: annual leave, sick leave, emergency leave, and leave without pay. Hypothesis 1 was retained for all categories except one named above.

The Chi-square test indicated that there was no significant difference between turnover rates in 1973, 1974, 1978, and 1979. A binomial test for equality of proportions showed no significant differences in turnover rates for the two 2-year periods. Hypothesis 2 was retained. However, there was a trend of decreasing turnover rates noted.

The Chi-square test indicated that there was a significant in crease (p=.05) in one job performance category, display of initiative, in the supervised group as compared to the non-supervised group. There was no significant difference between the non-supervised and supervised nurses in the other Job performance categories: expectations of self, supervisor's expectations, good relationships with peers, good relation ships with clients, and attitudes toward work.

This study indicated that the defined supervision reduced symptoms of burnout in this sample of psychiatric/mental health nurses in one of the categories of Job performance: those nurses receiving super vision demonstrated increased initiative. Thus, the defined supervision may be an effective use of nursing hours and an effective management technique to increase levels of job performance and thereby reduce or prevent symptoms of burnout. On the other hand, the defined supervision may be a peripherally important element in reducing two additional symptoms of burnout: absenteeism and Job turnover rate.

LLU Discipline





Graduate School

First Advisor

Nancy S. Testerman

Second Advisor

L. Frances Pride

Third Advisor

Jerry D. Hoyle

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Degree Level


Year Degree Awarded


Date (Title Page)




Library of Congress/MESH Subject Headings

Problem Solving; Psychiatric Nursing; Stress, Psychological



Page Count

ix; 117

Digital Format


Digital Publisher

Loma Linda University Libraries

Usage Rights

This title appears here courtesy of the author, who has granted Loma Linda University a limited, non-exclusive right to make this publication available to the public. The author retains all other copyrights.


Loma Linda University Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Collection Website


Loma Linda University. Del E. Webb Memorial Library. University Archives