Burnout and Stress Among United States Immigration Judges

Lustig, S.L., Delucchi, K., Tennakoon, L., Kaul, B., Marks, D.L., & Slavin, D. (2008). Burnout and Stress Among United States Immigration Judges. Bender's Immigration Bulletin, 13, 22-36.

Abstract: Immigration Judges (IJs), whose enormous caseloads consist of one horrific story of human suffering after another, are at risk for stress and burnout, conditions which make adjudicating cases that much more challenging. Although stress and burnout have been documented among other professionals who work on a daily basis with traumatized populations, these conditions have never been quantified among IJs. All 212 practicing IJs were invited to participate in a web-based survey that asked generally about the work environment and used the Secondary Traumatic Stress Scale (STSC) and the Copenhagen Burnout Inventory (CBI) to inquire about stress and burnout respectively. A total of 96 IJs (45.3%) responded to the survey. IJs indicated they were suffering significant symptoms of secondary traumatic stress. They also reported more burnout than has been seen with any other professional group to whom the CBI has been administered, including physicians in busy hospitals and prison wardens. Female IJs reported significantly more stress and burnout than their male colleagues, a difference that was not explained by variations between men and women of other demographic variables or working conditions. Recommendations to reduce stress and burnout are discussed, namely decreasing caseloads, hiring more IJs, increasing supportstaff, reexamining case completion goals, and developing a support network for IJs. 

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