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Exploring the experience of emotional stress and burnout in nursing health care professionals working in personality disorder forensic settings

Akinsulire, O. (2020). Exploring the experience of emotional stress and burnout in nursing health care professionals working in personality disorder forensic settings. (Unpublished Doctoral thesis, City, University of London)


In the last two decades, the mental health system and the Ministry of Justice have shown a marked shift on how forensic patients with personality disorders are viewed and treated. This had signified an evolution directed towards creating more therapy-based pathways for Offenders with Personality Disorder (OPD). However, little to no research has been dedicated to understanding the impact of this change on the staff who work with OPD. More importantly, there is a dearth of research with regard to how stress and burnout are expressed in the lives of Nursing Health Care Professionals (NHCP) who work in this environment. This study employs interpretative phenomenological analysis to explore the experiences of seven NHCP working in a medium forensic unit specialising in treating patients with a diagnosis of personality disorder. The research answers two main questions: 1) How do NHCP make meaning of their experience of stress and burnout in a forensic personality disorder unit? And 2) How do NHCP working in a forensic personality disorder unit experience the stress and burnout from work in their personal lives?

This paper focuses on how participants expressed the different challenges of their work and how such challenges fostered a Post-traumatic growth (PG) in their personal lives. The analysis generated three interlinked main themes: 1) Operational trauma 2) Post-traumatic Growth and 3) Reflection.

These themes highlighted how the challenges of work have informed the lives of NHCP at work and beyond. Results showed that participants experienced features resembling operational trauma that appear to link with the concept of PG. The two themes also highlighted experiences of secondary trauma, vicarious trauma, domestic violence and difficulty to compartmentalise work and home. The theme
Reflection explored participants’ novelty with regard to their experience in generating a meta-analysis of their experiences. The limitations and findings of the study suggests further exploration into “intersectionalities” (such as race) and longitudinal studies to explore further implications. The study showed significant relevance to the field of counselling psychology and occupational health psychology.

Publication Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Departments: Doctoral Theses
Doctoral Theses > School of Arts and Social Sciences Doctoral Theses
School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Psychology
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