Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the demand for social workers in the U.S. and abroad has increased. There is demand for more social workers in North Carolina due to ongoing and increasing mental health, substance use disorder, and child welfare needs. COVID-19 has taken a toll on the personal and professional lives of social workers, and research is needed to understand the pandemic’s effects on burnout and commitment among social workers. The present study sought to understand how the COVID-19 pandemic affected the personal and professional lives of social workers practicing in North Carolina and to determine how the COVID-19 pandemic impacted social worker burnout and organizational and occupational commitment. An online survey was distributed to social workers practicing in North Carolina between February and June of 2022. Social work students recruited 120 eligible participants. Data were analyzed using descriptive statistics, correlations, and multiple regressions. Adjustments to COVID-19 were predictive of work-related burnout and affective commitment when controlling for other factors. Years of practice experience, racial identity, caregiver status, satisfaction with organizational environment, educational attainment, and urbanicity of practice location were also salient predictors across the regression models. North Carolina social workers experienced major adjustments to their personal and professional lives due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which led to negative consequences including increased work-related burnout and less organizational commitment. Additional research – particularly qualitative investigations – is needed to better understand the lived experiences of social workers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Document Type


Publication Date

Winter 2-26-2024

Notes/Citation Information

Brown, A., Walters, J., Jones, J. E., & *Cates, L. (2024). Adjustments to practice during the COVID-19 pandemic in North Carolina: Effects on burnout and commitment. Journal of Human Services: Training, Research, and Practice, 10(1), 1-38.

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