Date of Award

Spring 5-18-2023

Degree Type


Degree Name

PhD Health Sciences


Health and Medical Sciences


Deborah A. DeLuca, M.S., J.D.


Terrence F. Cahill, Ed.D., FACHE

Committee Member

Kathleen Nagle, Ph.D., CCC-SLP


Servant Leadership, Burnout, Disengagement and Exhaustion, work Engagement, vigor dedication and absorption


Burnout is a problem among workers in Nigeria, especially among nurses (Ozumba, & Alabere, 2019). This study examined whether there was a significant relationship between the employee perception of the servant leadership behaviors of the nurse supervisor and the employee’s self-rating of burnout: exhaustion and disengagement, and servant leadership behaviors of the nurse supervisor, and engagement: vigor, dedication, and absorption. Exhaustion refers to an intensive physical, affective, and cognitive strain while disengagement refers to the distancing of oneself from one’s work, and experiencing negative attitudes toward the work object, work content, or one’s work in general (Demerouti et al., 2001). Vigor is characterized by high levels of energy and mental resilience while working, the willingness to invest effort in one’s work, and persistence even in the face of difficulties. Dedication refers to being strongly involved in one's work and experiencing a sense of significance, enthusiasm, inspiration, pride, and challenge. Absorption is characterized by being fully concentrated and happily engrossed in one’s work, whereby time passes quickly, and one has difficulties with detaching oneself from work (Schaufeli & Bakker, 2003). The study also examined if employees at an institution that explicitly endorses the principles of servant leadership behaviors of the supervisor would score higher in vigor, dedication, and absorption and score lower on exhaustion and disengagement. The study took place at three university teaching hospitals in Nigeria: Lagos University Teaching Hospital (172 participants), University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital Enugu (172 participants), and University of Port-Harcourt Teaching Hospital (154 participants). There were 498 participants in the study. Most of the study participants were female (463, 93.0%), while the rest were male (35, 7.0%). This reflected the national average concerning gender of the nursing population in Nigeria. The study utilized already validated psychometric instruments: Linden’s Servant Leadership Scale 7, to measure the servant leadership behaviors of the supervisor. The Utrecht Work Engagement Scale was used to measure employee work engagement, and the Oldenburg Burnout Inventory was used to measure the burnout of the employees.

This study found a small significant negative correlation between the employee perception of the servant leadership scale and employee burnout: exhaustion and disengagement. It also found a small positive significant relationship between employee perception of the servant leadership behaviors of the supervisor and employee engagement: vigor, dedication, and absorption among the study participants. However, more servant leadership behaviors did not result in less burnout or more work engagement.