Burnout and compassion fatigue among exercise physiologists in mental healthcare

O. Lederman*, A. G. Cashin, H. Fibbins, J. Gaston, S. Rosenbaum, R. Stanton

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background Burnout and compassion fatigue (CF) are common among mental health practitioners. Accredited Exercise Physiologists (AEPs) provide clinical services to individuals experiencing mental illness, increasing their likelihood of experiencing burnout and CF. Aims To examine the prevalence of burnout and CF among AEPs working with people experiencing mental illness. Methods An anonymous online cross-sectional survey of AEPs working with people experiencing mental illness was distributed via the Exercise and Sports Science Australia Mental Health Special Interest Group Facebook page between July and November 2019. In addition to demographics and caseload data, respondents completed the Professional Quality of Life scale and Oldenburg Burnout Inventory (OLBI). Results are reported using descriptive statistics. Results Sixty-two AEPs (68%, n = 42 female) completed the survey. Most (n = 53, 86%) reported delivering services to consumers with severe mental health conditions. Less than half (n = 27, 44%) reported working in a dedicated mental health facility. Moderate levels of burnout and CF were experienced by 60% and 30% of respondents, respectively. Conclusions The prevalence of moderate burnout and CF symptoms in AEPs is comparable with other mental health professionals. Strategies to preserve psychological well-being such as enhancing mental health training for undergraduates and formalized supervision structures discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)633-640
Number of pages8
JournalOccupational Medicine
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2020


  • Burnout
  • Compassion fatigue
  • Exercise physiologist
  • Mental health
  • Mental illness

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