Assessing morale in community mental health professionals
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While there is a need to assess morale in community mental health professionals, it still remains to be determined how to obtain and interpret data in a sound and meaningful way. The aims of the present study were to assess the extent to which levels of morale are sensitive to differences between professional groups and health care systems, and identify factors influencing morale across groups and settings.
A literature search of electronic databases was undertaken to identify studies measuring morale in different groups of community mental health professionals. Data was subjected to a pooled analysis. Differences between groups and sites were tested using factorial ANOVA and respective effect sizes were estimated based on Cohen’s  work.
Data of four studies and a total of 723 professionals (from Austria, Germany, Italy and United Kingdom) were combined in a pooled analysis. Significant differences of morale levels were found between professional groups and study sites, and differences between professional groups varied significantly by study site. Effect sizes estimated for differences between particular groups of different health care systems ranged from small to large. Age was found to be a factor independently associated with morale.
Staff in community mental health care show substantial differences in morale levels depending on the professional group and context. These differences can often be identified even if in sample sizes of only 30 participants per group. Levels of morale need to be established specifically for different professional groups and context, and age should be controlled as an influential factor. The findings show a discriminant validity of assessment instruments for staff morale in community mental health care, and underline the rationale for such assessments in research and routine care.
Keywordsstaff morale pooled analysis community mental health care burnout job satisfaction team identity mental health professionals
The authors would like to thank Gian-Maria Galeazzi, Karin Hoffmann, Sonia Johnson, and Hemma Swoboda for their permission to use the original datasets for the current study.
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