An exploratory study on the factors affecting the mental health and well-being of frontline workers in homeless services

Alienor Lemieux-Cumberlege, Emily Taylor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Frontline workers in homeless services are frequently exposed to traumatic material and work in a high-intensity, emotionally consuming environment, with potentially significant consequences for mental health, thus highlighting the need for psychologically informed environments for staff. This study aimed to explore factors that may influence the development of burnout, secondary traumatic stress (STS), depression, anxiety, and stress in this population. Elevated levels of burnout and STS were predicted, as was an association between the predictor variables of professional experience, educational background, continuing professional development, access to organizational support structures, and the outcome measures of compassion satisfaction, burnout, STS, depression, anxiety, and stress. An online cross-sectional survey design using The Professional Quality of Life Scale (Version V) and the Depression Anxiety and Stress Scale-21, and scales designed for this study capturing occupational variables was distributed via email and national networks to a wide range of services across Scotland and rest of the UK. Over four months, 112 frontline homelessness workers in health, social care and third sector organizations completed the survey. Results did not indicate elevated levels of burnout or STS, though depression and stress were found to be significantly elevated, and were associated with burnout, compassion satisfaction and secondary traumatic stress. High levels of various types of supervision support and CPD were identified. There was no association between these and burnout or stress. We highlight the elevated levels of stress and depression and make a research recommendation to parse types of supervision to assess for optimal effectiveness and efficiency in ensuring that staff working in high-stress homelessness settings receive optimal support to deliver high quality services.
Original languageEnglish
JournalHealth and Social Care in the Community
Early online date12 Mar 2019
Publication statusPublished - 17 Jun 2019


  • homelessness
  • depression
  • psychologically informed environments
  • secondary trauma
  • frontline workers
  • stress


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