Associations Among Attachment Style, Burnout, and Compassion Fatigue in Health and Human Service Workers: A Systematic Review

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22 Scopus citations


Health and human service workers are at risk for developing burnout or compassion fatigue due to the demanding nature of their work. Attachment theory makes specific predictions that may help explain why some workers experience burnout or compassion fatigue and others do not. The purpose of this systematic review is to identify and attempt to explain patterns and inconsistencies in results across studies that have examined the association between adult attachment style and burnout or compassion fatigue. Ten studies representing a diverse range of disciplines within the health and human service sectors were included in the research synthesis. The findings demonstrated consistent results for secure and anxious attachment, suggesting that attachment security is associated with lower levels of burnout, whereas attachment anxiety is associated with higher levels of burnout. Some studies found an association between avoidant attachment and burnout, whereas others did not. The results are discussed in terms of their implications for the selection, training, and supervision of health and human service workers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)571-590
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Human Behavior in the Social Environment
Issue number6
StatePublished - Aug 18 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Adult attachment
  • burnout
  • compassion fatigue
  • health workers
  • human service workers

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anthropology
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)

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