Date of Award

Spring 5-20-2023

Document Type


Degree Name

PHD - Doctor of Philosophy


Expressive Therapies

First Advisor

Dr. Jason D. Butler

Second Advisor

Dr. Michaela Kirby

Third Advisor

Dr. Lesly Kelly


This study explored the use of drama therapy to support the social-emotional experiences of nurse leaders at a mid-sized regional hospital system in the Southeastern United States. Nurse leaders have experienced profound changes to their work environments in recent years and burnout has been at an all-time high among healthcare workers globally. Organizational supports for nurses and nurse leaders are both inadequate to meet the needs and under-resourced. The research questions explored 1) whether the drama therapy peer support initiative improved outcomes and 2) whether there was a significant relationship between measures, and 3) what nurse leaders described as facilitators and barriers to participation. To answer these questions, pre- and post- surveys were sent to nurse leaders (N = 32) who participated in the drama therapy program. Survey measures included Maslach Burnout Inventory-HSS, Toronto Empathy Questionnaire, and WHO-5 Wellbeing Index. The validated measures were helpful for providing baseline data that could uniquely inform the development of future support programs for nurse leaders at the study site. In addition to the quantitative measures, participants responded to brief qualitative questions on the pre- and post- surveys related to experiences, barriers, and facilitators associated with the initiative and the topic of peer support generally. Facilitator field notes were analyzed to assist with qualitative analysis and interpretation of data.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.



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