Retaining volunteer mediators: Comparing predictors of burnout

Date01 May 2018
Published date01 May 2018
Retaining volunteer mediators: Comparing
predictors of burnout
Caroline Harmon-Darrow | Yanfeng Xu
School of Social Work, University of Maryland,
Baltimore, Baltimore, Maryland
Caroline Harmon-Darrow, School of Social Work,
University of Maryland, Baltimore, 525 West
Redwood Street, Baltimore, MD 21201.
Retention of the estimated 30,000 U.S. volunteer commu-
nity mediators is critical to provision of high-quality
services. Although workersretention and burnout is well
researched, retention of volunteers such as community
mediators is less understood. Survey data of 53 volunteer
mediators were analyzed. For volunteer mediators, burn-
out and intent to remain for 2 years were significantly
negatively associated. Using a self-determination-based
basic needs satisfaction scale, more relatedness satisfac-
tion predicted lower burnout for volunteer mediators,
while competence satisfaction and autonomy satisfaction
did not. This association held, even when controlling for
mediatorsexperience in the field and self-care behaviors.
An estimated 30,000 volunteer communit y mediators in the United States are reso lving family,
neighborhood, and organizational confl icts, saving communities, courts, and government up to
$17,800,000 annually (Corbett & Corbett, 201 3). These volunteers receive extensive tr aining and
apprenticeship to conduct mediation sess ions, and their retention is critical to the provision of high-
quality services to mediation participants, and to the sust ainability of the mission of community-
based mediation centers. Given the absence of past resear ch on this population in the volunteer
retention literature, this study intends to ex amine the predictors of volunteer community med iator
burnout and retention.
1.1 |Community mediation
Since the 1970s, United States conflict resolution programs, from nonprofit community mediation
centers to street conflict interruptersto restorative justice circles have been a promising cluster of
community-based interventions. A growing literature shows that conflict resolution services can build
a sense of community and understanding (Kaufer, Noll, & Mayer, 2014; Ohmer, Warner, & Beck,
Received: 20 November 2017 Revised: 19 January 2018 Accepted: 22 January 2018
DOI: 10.1002/crq.21216
© 2018 Association for Conflict Resolution and Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
Conflict Resolution Quarterly. 2018;35:367381. 367

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