Staff burnout in paediatric oncology: new tools to facilitate the development and evaluation of effective interventions

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Working in paediatric oncology can be stressful, and staff may need support if they are to avoid burnout, but there is currently no evidence base to guide the development of interventions. As a significant barrier to addressing this gap is a lack of context specific research instruments, a project was undertaken to develop measures of the stressors and rewards experienced by staff. Measure development involved: (1) qualitative interviews with a purposive sample of paediatric oncology staff to develop an ‘item pool’ (n = 32); (2) selection of items for draft measures; (3) cognitive interviews (n = 7) to gather feedback on draft measures; (4) a survey of staff (n = 203) using the draft and comparator measures; (5) factor and Rasch analysis to determine the scaling properties of the measures; (6) an assessment of construct validity. As a result, the Work Stressors Scale – Paediatric Oncology (WSS-PO) and the Work Rewards Scale – Paediatric Oncology (WRS-PO) were created. Both measures have considerable content validity, and fulfil classical test theory requirements and Rasch model requirements for an interval level scale. These new measures can be used in research and clinical practice to investigate factors associated with burnout, and to facilitate and direct the development of staff interventions.

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