Emotional exhaustion and turnover intention in human service occupations: The protective role of coworker support

Lori J. Ducharme, Hannah K. Knudsen, Paul M. Roman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

178 Scopus citations


Human services occupations are prone to high rates of burnout and turnover. These outcomes have adverse implications for service providers and the clients in their care. Several studies have assessed the structural causes and consequences of burnout and turnover, but little attention has been paid to the potentially protective role of coworker support. We estimate a structural equation model including job characteristics, coworker support, and workplace justice to predict turnover intention, both directly and indirectly through emotional exhaustion. More than 1,800 substance abuse treatment counselors provided survey data for these analyses. Net of demographic and workload measures, low autonomy, and a lack of distributive justice significantly predicted emotional exhaustion, while coworker support was inversely associated with exhaustion. In turn, exhaustion was a significant predictor of intent to quit. Coworker support exhibited direct inverse effects on intent to quit, while counselors reporting low autonomy and lack of workplace justice were more likely to be contemplating quitting. These findings extend previous research by identifying specific and beneficial effects of coworker support on counselors' job-related affect and well-being.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)81-104
Number of pages24
JournalSociological Spectrum
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2008

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by grants from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (R01DA13110 and R01DA14482). The opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not represent the official views of the funding agency.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science


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