Applications are now open for NCCRED's latest round of seed funding grants. The grants are designed to support innovative clinical research for the treatment of substance use disorder due to methamphetamine or emerging drugs of concern. For more information or to apply go to http://nccred.org.au/generate/nccred-clinical-research-seed-funding/
Alcohol and other drug (AOD) work can be highly meaningful and satisfying, but also intense and highly demanding. This combination often creates significant strain for workers. Mirroring this complexity, this study considered the predictors and outcomes of the concurrent experience of burnout and engagement in AOD workers. The Job Demands‐Resources model informed the study.
This study utilised data from a recent Australian AOD workforce survey. The sample comprised 886 workers in direct client service roles. K‐means cluster analysis on burnout and engagement measures identified four discrete groups: burnt out (15.6%) (high burnout/low engagement), engaged (36.7%) (low burnout/high engagement), overextended (26.5%) (high burnout/high engagement) and indifferent (21.2%) (low burnout/low engagement).
Multinomial logistic regression analysis indicated that workers were more likely to be burnt out or overextended, rather than engaged, if they reported high work intensity, low organisational openness to change and low support. Multivariate analysis of variance showed burnt‐out workers had the least favourable and engaged respondents the most favourable outcomes on job satisfaction, turnover intention, health and life quality. Overextended workers were comparable to indifferent workers on these outcomes.
Discussion and Conclusion
This study offers a unique and nuanced view of AOD worker wellbeing. For the one‐quarter of workers reporting simultaneous burnout and engagement, their enthusiasm and commitment did not protect them from poor personal and organisational outcomes typically linked with burnout. The need for systemic and structural interventions is clearly indicated, including open and supportive organisational cultures, leadership development and adequate staffing.
Issues addressed: Recent reductions in young people's risky alcohol use have been widely documented but have not been examined among employed youth. Young workers’ risky drinking may have corresponded with increased illicit drug use. This study investigated these issues.
Methods: Secondary analyses were conducted for 15-24 year old Australian workers using nationally representative data from 2007 to 2016. Frequency analyses examined alcohol and illicit drug use, Z scores assessed differences over time, and logistic regression examined predictors of illicit drug use.
Results: Risky drinking decreased significantly over time whilst low-risk drinking increased. This pattern was observed for both young workers and young employed illicit drug users. Whilst “any” illicit drug use did not change over time, methamphetamine use decreased, and cannabis and hallucinogen use increased. Drinking alcohol at risky levels (monthly) was associated with illicit drug use in 2016, as were being single and having high/very high levels of psychological distress.
Conclusions: Risky drinking reductions over time have not corresponded with increased illicit drug use. Nonetheless, as risky drinking remains high among young workers, and is strongly associated with illicit drug use, it warrants concerted health promotion efforts that may also help minimise illicit drug use.
So what?: Despite a reduction in young workers’ risky alcohol consumption, risky drinking is still high and may impact the health and safety of workers and the wider community. As risky drinking is strongly associated with illicit drug use, workplaces could potentially play a vital role in combating alcohol and illicit drug misuse.
Keywords: alcohol consumption, health behaviours, illicit drug use, workplaces