Abstract: A Cross-Lagged Panel Design Examining the Relationships Amongst Trauma-Informed Climate Factors, Organizational Commitment, and Burnout (Society for Social Work and Research 24th Annual Conference - Reducing Racial and Economic Inequality)

A Cross-Lagged Panel Design Examining the Relationships Amongst Trauma-Informed Climate Factors, Organizational Commitment, and Burnout

Friday, January 17, 2020
Independence BR G, ML 4 (Marriott Marquis Washington DC)
* noted as presenting author
Travis Hales, PhD, Assistant Professor, University of North Carolina, Charlotte, Charlotte, NC
Thomas Nochajski, PhD, Research Professor, University at Buffalo School of Social Work, NY
Background and Purpose: While there has been considerable investigation into the relationship between organizational conditions and organizational performance, few studies have employed longitudinal designs to test and establish temporal precedence. Organizational theories generally assume organizational conditions are primary determinants of organizational behavior and performance. The current study empirically tests this hypothesis by incorporating a longitudinal design and conducting a series of cross-lagged panel analyses on a variety of organizational condition and performance measures. 

Methods: The Choice and Collaboration subscales from the Trauma-Informed Climate Scale, Burnout subscale from the Professional Quality of Life (Pro QoL), and the Affective Commitment Scale were electronically administered to a public hospital’s behavioral health department located in the Western New York Region. Instruments were administered to all staff during the winter of 2016-17, and again 12 months later. Cross-lagged panel analyses (CLPAs) were conducted to assess whether choice and collaboration (i.e., organizational conditions) at time-one predicted burnout and commitment at time-two. Alternative models were also tested that reversed the causal ordering, exploring if time-one commitment and burnout scores predicted time-two scores of choice and collaboration.  

Results: A total of 43 respondents provided sufficient data to be matched across the two time-points. Due to the limited sample size, the CLPAs were limited to path models where each of the construct’s mean scores were used for analyses. While choice and collaboration were hypothesized to predict burnout and commitment, the CLPA results provided no support that conditions at time-one predicted either burnout or commitment at time-two. Alternatively, commitment at time-one predicted both choice (β = .38, p < .01) and collaboration (β = .50, p < .001) at time-two, and there were no relationships between burnout and the condition constructs across time.

Conclusions and Implications: While it is generally assumed that organizational conditions influence staff member experiences of burnout and commitment in the workplace, the current study findings suggest a diametrically opposed temporal ordering. Rather than conditions shaping commitment, commitment to the organization may in fact be a primary driver in shaping staff member perceptions of the work environment. It is possible that through increased levels of commitment, staff members perceive opportunities to participate and act autonomously within the organizational setting.

Additionally, the results did not indicate any temporal relationships among burnout, choice, and collaboration. This may have been due to limitations with the sample, as the average length of time at the current organization was under five years and subsequent average burnout scores were relatively low. Future research with more robust sampling approaches is warranted to continue examining these findings. However, what the current study suggests is that interventions aimed towards creating a trauma-informed environment based on staff member’s experiences of choice and collaboration may benefit from targeting commitment as a mediating variable.