OSR Journal of Student Research

Article Title

Volunteer Service as a Coping Strategy for Social Workers Against Professional Burnout


Abstract Problem Statement: Burnout is a prominent issue in the social work profession. Methods to mitigate the effects of burnout have received considerable attention in social work research. This study focused on a potential method of coping with burnout; volunteerism. While literature is scarce in regards to the effects of volunteerism on burnout rates among social workers. studies in related fields such as nursing, public-sector public administrators, and nonprofit workers indicate that volunteerism has potential benefits against burnout. This study’s purpose was to determine whether involvement in volunteer service is related to lower rates of burnout among social workers. We hypothesize that those who volunteer will report lower rates of job burnout. Methods: This quantitative study uses data from a non-random purposive sample of 442 social workers who completed a survey posted on the social work board of an online forum, Reddit and the networking site, LinkedIn. Survey questions captured participants’ demographic, volunteerism, and burnout rates using the Maslach Burnout Inventory-Human Services Survey (MBI-HSS). Results: Three t-tests for differences in means were conducted comparing those who volunteer and those who do not on the MBI-HSS’ three subscales (e.g. emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, personal accomplishment). The results yielded no statistically significant results. Conclusions: The findings do not support the hypothesis of this study or the available literature. A plausible explanation is, that for social workers, the volunteer work is so similar to their profession that engaging in volunteerism does not provide the respite necessary for recovery from the effects of burnout.

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