Commonalities and Differences in Social Work with Learning Disability and Child Protection: findings from a UK ‘Burnout’ national survey

Paula McFadden, Jill Manthorpe, John Mallett

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Social work with adults with learning disabilities or intellectual disability may be organised as a discrete or specialist area of practice in the United Kingdom (UK). Little is known about contemporary social work practitioners’ views of their work with adults with learning disabilities and if these differ from those of social workers in practice with different user groups or working in other specialities. This paper reports findings from a national survey of UK social workers undertaken in 2015 that measured burnout using the Maslach Burnout Inventory, across three domains, emotional exhaustion, depersonalisation and personal accomplishment. A total of 1359 social workers responded to the invitation to participate, of whom 77 reported predominantly working with adults with learning disabilities and 358 reported working in child protection social work. Comparisons are drawn between responses from social workers working in these distinct practice areas showing high levels of emotional exhaustion co-existing with high levels of personal accomplishment in both areas of practice. Other important distinctions and similarities are reported.
Original languageUndefined
Pages (from-to)1199-1219
JournalBritish Journal of Social Work
Issue number5
Early online date7 Sept 2017
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 1 Jul 2018


  • Burnout, Social Work, learning disability, Child Protection

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