Abstract: Examining the Influence of the Trauma-Informed Climates of Choice and Collaboration on Organizational Commitment and Burnout through Structural Equation Modeling (Society for Social Work and Research 23rd Annual Conference - Ending Gender Based, Family and Community Violence)

Examining the Influence of the Trauma-Informed Climates of Choice and Collaboration on Organizational Commitment and Burnout through Structural Equation Modeling

Thursday, January 17, 2019: 3:00 PM
Union Square 16 Tower 3, 4th Floor (Hilton San Francisco)
* noted as presenting author
Travis Hales, PhD, Affiliate, University at Buffalo, Buffalo, NY
Thomas Nochajski, PhD, Research Professor, University at Buffalo School of Social Work
Background and Purpose: Despite its widespread adoption, there is limited research examining the influence of the trauma-informed organizational values of safety, trust, choice, collaboration, and empowerment on staff or client outcomes. The following study examined the influence of staff member’s experiences of choice and collaboration in the workplace on organizational commitment and burnout. Commitment and burnout were selected because they have repeatedly shown to predict performance in a variety of service sectors. It was hypothesized that choice and collaboration would be positively associated with commitment and negatively associated with burnout. It was also hypothesized that commitment would mediate the relationships between both choice and collaboration with burnout.

Methods: Data were collected using a cross-sectional survey design. An email containing an information sheet and link to an online survey was distributed to all staff members within a large public hospital’s behavioral health department (N=197). The surveys included the choice (α=.80) and collaboration (α=.80) subscales from the Trauma-Informed Climate Scale (Hales, Kusmaul, & Nochajski, 2017), Allen and Meyer’s (1990) measure of affective commitment (α=.88), and the burnout subscale (α=.78) from Professional Quality of Life (Stamm, 2010). Anderson and Gerbing’s (1988) two-step approach to structural equation modeling was used to for hypothesis testing. Because the data were cross-sectional, alternative models were constructed and compared to the hypothesized model.

Results: Following Hu and Bentler’s (1999) heuristics, the confirmatory factor analysis resulted in an excellent fit to the data (χ2 (46) = 73.56, p = .006; Normed χ2 = 1.60; RMSEA = .06; SRMR = .05; CFI = .97; TLI = .97). Interestingly, the three models tested (i.e., the structural regression with commitment and burnout regressed on choice and collaboration, the mediation model, and the alternative model) all resulted in identical fit indices (χ2 (46) = 73.56, p < .01; Normed χ2 = 1.60; RMSEA = .06; SRMR = .05; CFI = .97; TLI = .96). Choice predicted burnout but not commitment, and collaboration predicted commitment but not burnout. From the mediation model, there was support that commitment mediated the relationship between participation and burnout, but not choice and burnout. Lastly, the alternative model indicated that it was plausible commitment and burnout shaped staff member’s experiences of choice and collaboration.

Conclusion and Implications: The following study adds to existent trauma-informed literature by examining the relationships between specific dimensions of trauma-informed environments on staff outcomes. While the findings were nuanced, definitive relationships emerged among the constructs tested. Future research that incorporates the element of time will help unpack the causal ordering and establish the causal predominance of constructs. Ultimately, there was support that choice, participation, and commitment likely serve a protective function against staff member’s experience of burnout. Staff members that experience heightened degrees of choice and collaboration are likely to be more committed to the organization and its goals. These constructs may, in turn, help to improve the organization’s responsiveness to client presentation of need and help to improve agency's clinical outcomes.