Burnout amongst Generalist and Forensic Social Workers: A Comparative Study





burnout, comparison, forensic social work, generalist social work


Forensic social work poses obstacles that can increase the risk of burnout among practitioners. Prior research studies have explored burnout among generalist social workers; however, there is a noticeable deficiency in the literature regarding burnout among forensic social workers, as well as the absence of comparisons between these two professions to discern variations in burnout patterns. The aim of this study was to compare burnout patterns among generalist and forensic social workers using a quantitative approach and a comparison group design. Qualified generalist and forensic social workers from an accredited South African university participated in an all-inclusive willing participation sample approach. The study found that, while both groups had moderate degrees of emotional exhaustion, forensic social workers experienced higher levels. There were also significant disparities in depersonalisation, with forensic social workers suggesting higher levels. This study contributes to understanding burnout patterns in forensic social workers, highlighting the need for targeted efforts to mitigate their effects.


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Author Biographies

Claudia-Lee Hunter, North-West University

Postgraduate student, COMPRES, School of Psychosocial Health, North-West University

Erika Fourie, North-West University

North-West University, School of Mathematical and Statistical Sciences, Potchefstroom, South Africa


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How to Cite

Hunter, Claudia-Lee, Pieter Boshoff, and Erika Fourie. 2024. “Burnout Amongst Generalist and Forensic Social Workers: A Comparative Study”. Southern African Journal of Social Work and Social Development 36 (2):20 pages. https://doi.org/10.25159/2708-9355/15596.



Received 2023-12-11
Accepted 2024-04-24
Published 2024-05-27