In this series of article reviews, we will dissect the latest research papers important to mental health education and advocacy.

November 6, 2023 – 7 min read

Workplace stressors and PTSD among psychiatric workers: The mediating role of burnout by Elke HamMichael C SetoNicole C RodriguesN Zoe Hilton.

Introduction to Article

Ham et al. created this study in 2022 to observe the effect of burnout on the relationship between PTSD symptoms and workplace stressors on psychiatric workers. There was already an established link between those stressors and PTSD symptoms, yet it was unclear whether burnout helped explain the relationship between the two factors. The authors chose to do this study because it would help determine what kind of care psychiatric staff should receive: should it be focused on improving working conditions or simply dealing with the mental effects of post-traumatic stress disorder?


The authors surveyed 611 nurses across three psychiatric hospitals in Canada. They were asked about critical events and workplace stressors (i.e., physical violence or disturbing behavior), workplace conditions with the Areas of Worklife Survey, burnout with the Maslach Burnout Inventory, and PTSD symptoms with the PTSD checklist from the DSM-5. Using this information, the authors tested the relationship between the variables and the role that burnout played in increasing or decreasing the relationship between PTSD symptoms and workplace conditions and stressors.


The authors found that burnout had a direct, strong relation with PTSD symptoms: the more burnout a psychiatric nurse reported, the more likely they were to have PTSD symptoms. Burnout also explained the relationship between exposure to critical events and PTSD symptoms, but it did not do so for chronic stressors. Chronic stressors related to disturbing behavior directly impacted PTSD symptoms, while resisting care did not. Finally, workplace conditions had a direct negative effect on burnout. Worklife conditions had a negative relationship with burnout and an indirect effect on PTSD symptoms.


The study was conducted in three hospitals in the same province of Canada. This geographic concentration could mean that confounding factors related to the conditions of that particular area could have affected the survey results. Additionally, the nature of self-reported surveys means that it is impossible to determine the truth of the answers given by respondents, meaning that results could have been affected by the stigma experienced by those suffering mental health problems.

ARE U Takeaways

  • The first thing to take away from this study is burnout’s role in mental health. The study demonstrated that burnout is directly related to the prevalence of PTSD symptoms.
  • If employees are not satisfied with their job, they appear less mentally resilient when it comes to workplace stressors.
  • Burnout also causes other detrimental factors (i.e., exposure to violence) to have a stronger likelihood of inducing symptoms of PTSD in employees.
  • To protect employees’ mental health, employers should try and improve the working conditions to reduce the likelihood of burnout.


Ham, E., Seto, M. C., Rodrigues, N. C., & Hilton, N. Z. (2022). Workplace stressors and PTSD among psychiatric workers: The mediating role of Burnout. International Journal of Mental Health Nursing, 31(5), 1151–1163.