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occupational balance, stress, burnout, occupational therapy assistant student


Presentation: 23:22

Presentation completed in partial fulfillment of a Post Professional Occupational Therapy Doctorate degree at Thomas Jefferson University.


The United States healthcare worker burnout crisis demands immediate attention. College is critical for preparing occupational therapy assistant students (OTA) to address life balance, stress, and burnout as they transition into the workforce. However, little is known about these factors in this population. In this doctoral presentation, the primary author presents her doctoral project, which explored OTA students' life balance and its association with their perceived stress and occupational burnout across employment status, residential status, years of study, and age. A cross-sectional Qualtrics e-survey was distributed to OTA students ages 18 and older, including a demographic survey, Life Balance Inventory (LBI), Perceived Stress Scale- Short (PSS-4), Single Measure of Occupational Burnout (SIMB) and open-ended questions about students' perceptions of what is harmful or buffering to their life balance. Findings from 200 OTA students’ responses indicate occupational imbalance with an overall LBI score of 1.99. There were significant differences among the LBI subscales. Moderate, negative correlations were found between students’ life balance, perceived stress, and occupational burnout. No differences were observed across residential status, employment status, years of study, or age. Buffering effects on their life balance were associated with engaging in exercise, sleeping, or finishing assignments while lingering outside homework, lack of sleep, and limited dedicated time to relax were perceived as harmful. Findings suggest that addressing life balance and implementing strategies to mitigate stress and burnout are critical for their well-being and professional success. Further research is warranted to develop targeted support programs for OTA students.

Synopsis: This doctoral presentation focuses on a cross-sectional exploratory study that examined the life balance of occupational therapy assistant students in the US, supporting the need for well-being and professional success strategies and further research to develop targeted support programs.

Acknowledgments: Dr. Tom Reinsfelder, MSLS, Ph.D., Penn State Mont Alto Head Librarian, and Kristi Addleman Ritter, MSLS, Penn State Mont Alto Reference and Instruction