Date of Completion


Embargo Period



Shiftwork, Burnout, Crisis Intervention, Work Context

Major Advisor

Janet Barnes-Farrell

Associate Advisor

Vicki Magley

Associate Advisor

Nick Warren

Field of Study



Doctor of Philosophy

Open Access

Open Access


Shiftwork, defined as working during times other than traditional daytime hours, is a working condition that has long been implicated in physiological, psychological and social consequences for workers. The negative effects of shiftwork are primarily attributed to the demand placed on workers to function at varying times of day or night. Most of the research into these outcomes and their underlying mechanisms has been focused on physiological effects of circadian rhythmic disruption, performance decrements in the form of fatigue-induced accidents and injuries, as well as the mental health outcomes associated with balancing family obligations while on opposite sleep schedules. Work contextual features (e.g., workload, control, and fairness) also have implications for workers’ experiences and health-related outcomes, yet researchers are still investigating many of the relationships between various aspects of the work context and shiftwork. Burnout is one phenomenon that has been consistently linked to work contextual antecedents, studied relative to shiftwork, and has demonstrated a link to workers’ mental and physical health as well as organizational outcomes. However, studies regarding the relationship between burnout and shiftwork have yielded mixed results over the years. This is problematic because burnout is prevalent among workers in the mental health services industry, and many of these operations utilize shiftwork scheduling systems to run on a continuous basis (24/7). The aim of this dissertation was to utilize a multi-study, mixed methods approach to address this research need, and further investigate whether various features of the work context differed systematically by workshift. The specific study population was workers in the telephone-based information and referral, crisis counseling industry. For Study 1, a series of phone interviews were conducted to obtain perceptions of the psychosocial work context for day, evening and night shift workers. Study 2 consisted of a questionnaire with a quantitative and qualitative section investigating perceptions of work contextual features and burnout. The analysis of quantitative data did not yield support for the hypotheses that workshift was statistically associated with the work context, or that it moderated the relationship between work experiences and burnout. However, the qualitative analysis did provide support for the emerging of different work contexts depending on workshift. The qualitative component of Study 2 therefore provided valuable explanatory insight identifying potential limitations to purely quantitative approaches, and the need to continue investigating these relationships with a mixed methods approach.