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Categories: Health

Burnout: a Public Health Problem

E design, evaluation and effectiveness of interventions in the workplace to reduce the risk of burnout.

Health professionals are often subjected to demanding working conditions and both burnout (physical and mental exhaustion) and work engagement (the degree of commitment to work) are psychological reactions that develop when personal characteristics interact with job characteristics. For this reason, researchers from Spain, Portugal and Ecuador have promoted a study whose objective is “to analyze the factors that influence the levels of burnout and work engagement in health professionals”, in which they dedicate a specific chapter to their involvement in the crisis of the Covid-19 coronavirus.

In this review, which has been published in the Spanish Journal of Public Health of the Ministry of Health, 27 studies have been analyzed. “Among health professionals, moderate levels of work engagement and low burnout values ​​were observed,” the experts point out.

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Work demands (work overload, type of shift, concurrence of negative events, type of service, etc.) and personal, situational and organizational resources (psychological capital, social support, ability to express emotions, personal values, feeling self-actualized, among others), “may be factors that influence the levels of work engagement and burnout”, conclude the experts, who argue that the results “allow to offer implications for the design, evaluation and efficacy of interventions in the workplace to reduce the risk of burnout and improve the levels of work engagement in health workers “. Especially, they point out, in doctors and nurses. “In addition, it is a Public Health problem since the development of this problem can affect not only the health of the worker but also the quality and safety of the care provided,” they add.

The research dedicates a special chapter to the influence of the Covid-19 crisis on the levels of burnout and work engagement. “In a situation such as that caused by Covid-19, the labor demands that health professionals must meet may be higher than those usual in their work environment and the resources available to them may be insufficient,” warn the experts, who they focus on evaluating the factors that can improve work engagement levels and the factors that can moderate the possibility of developing burnout.

Covid, health and commitment of professionals

In relation to the Covid-19 crisis, the researchers review several studies that reveal “average levels of work commitment of nurses and high levels of satisfaction that could be due to factors such as the resilience and self-efficacy of the participants, being aware of the importance of their work for society “.

This work commitment, they add, can be dynamic since there are studies that determine that “work engagement decreases in parallel with the increase in stress related to the pandemic.” “These stressful situations may be due to the fear of infecting friends and loved ones, due to increased workload, shifts and workplace changes or frequent contact with Covid-19 patients,” exemplify the researchers.

“Some of these working conditions can be modified with appropriate management strategies,” emphasize the researchers, who put as an example experienced nurse leaders with doctoral preparation, who have higher levels of compassion satisfaction and lower levels of burnout.

Lawsuits and labor resources in health

The researchers note that “work demands have shown a positive correlation with the dimensions of burnout in all the studies that have been included in the review.” Thus, “factors such as workload were associated with higher levels of emotional exhaustion and depersonalization in various samples of health professionals.” Furthermore, when this work overload was high in a sample of Spanish and Uruguayan nurses, “the intention to rotate service and / or change jobs increased”.

At this point, they review a study carried out on a sample of 1,225 nurses from the emergency services in southern Spain who indicated that “a complementary physical shift could increase the risk of developing burnout syndrome.”

In addition to the workload and the occurrence of negative events, such as stress and violence, “the values ​​of the organization, the type of service and the work environment can affect the levels of work engagement and, to a greater extent, the levels of burnout “, determine the experts, who give an example that, in a comparative study between hospital nurses and non-hospital nurses (health centers and psychiatric clinics)” it was observed that the nurses who worked within the hospital had higher levels of burnout and lower levels of work engagement compared to nurses who work in health centers and psychiatric clinics. ”

The researchers defend that “there are a series of personal, situational or organizational resources capable of cushioning and reducing the impact on the levels of work engagement and burnout in health professionals. The simple fact of perceiving the resources” could be an important protective factor for the nursing staff “.

In other cases, they explain, “the applicability of the values ​​of justice, honesty, judgment and love of the doctors working in two Austrian hospitals was particularly essential for their psychological well-being and work engagement.” In the case of a sample of leading nurses from the emergency services in the United States, the variables that most strongly affected work engagement in a positive way were the skills to learn new things and the meaning they gave to the work itself.

On the other hand, social support and teamwork have been recurring study factors “and seem to have a positive influence on levels of work engagement. When these factors are not adequate, the intention to change service tends to increase with the consequent increase in work engagement. risk of developing burnout syndrome if the situation lasts over time “, they point out.

Although it may contain statements, data or notes from health institutions or professionals, the information contained in Redacción Médica is edited and prepared by journalists. We recommend the reader that any health-related question be consulted with a healthcare professional.


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