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Cover page of the Journal of Health Sciences

 Table of Contents  
Year : 2019  |  Volume : 12  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 101-102

Burnout among healthcare professionals: Is it a cause for concern?

Department of Oral Pathology and Microbiology, KLE VK Institute of Dental Sciences and Hospital, KLE Academy of Higher Education and Research, Belagavi, Karnataka, India

Date of Web Publication4-Jun-2019

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Punnya V Angadi
Department of Oral Pathology and Microbiology, KLE VK Institute of Dental Sciences and Hospital, KLE Academy of Higher Education and Research, Belagavi - 590 010, Karnataka
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/kleuhsj.kleuhsj_102_19

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How to cite this article:
Angadi PV. Burnout among healthcare professionals: Is it a cause for concern?. Indian J Health Sci Biomed Res 2019;12:101-2

How to cite this URL:
Angadi PV. Burnout among healthcare professionals: Is it a cause for concern?. Indian J Health Sci Biomed Res [serial online] 2019 [cited 2020 Feb 29];12:101-2. Available from: http://www.ijournalhs.org/text.asp?2019/12/2/101/259631

  Introduction Top

Healthcare professionals continue to be the backbone for providing health care and determine the healthcare outcomes across the world. It is well appreciated that the vivacity and the growth of a healthcare institution depend on its faculty's success. McMohan wrote an endearing editorial in New England Journal of Medicine where he has stated that the healthcare professionals are the most precious resources in medicine.[1] He also adds that unfortunately, due to buildup of exceptional pressures on healthcare providers and provider systems, healthcare institutions seem to have lost sight of this aphorism.[1] In recent times, it has been observed that academic healthcare professionals face multiple challenges in the form of navigating manifold responsibilities (clinical and academic) within time constraints, steering through competition, and fulfilling expectations for promotion and advancement – pressures that could predispose to burnout.[2]

  What is Burnout? Why is it Important? Top

Freudenberger initially used the terminology “burnout” to exemplify the progressive emotional exhaustion, reduced enthusiasm, and decreased commitment for work amid healthcare volunteers.[3] After years of research, burnout is now well defined as a “psychological syndrome that may emerge when employees are exposed to a stressful working environment with high job demands and low resources.”[4] In the current scenario, job stress and burnout are significant issues for healthcare professionals. Research has shown that burnout may affect 10%–70% of nurses and 30%–50% of doctors, making it an increasingly recognized entity among this group. Healthcare professionals across all stages of their careers ranging from students, residents, as well as experienced workers, have reported suffering from burnout.[4]

What makes it significant is that burnout besides jeopardizing the health and welfare of the professionals has also been linked with increased incidence of medical errors and diminished quality of patient care, which in turn can adversely affect the reputation of the concerned health care institution.[2]

  Causes for Burnout Top

Healthcare professionals who work for patient's care day in and out in proximity may not often fathom the effect that it may have on their own emotional health and well-being. In addition to patient-related factors, burnout research has identified several work-related factors which include increased workload, time constraints, role conflicts, and lack of autonomy and rewards/recognition to be the perpetuators for the same. In addition, individual or personal traits may also enhance the susceptibility to burnout, such as decreased rationality, low emotional awareness, reduced social attachment, poor interpersonal relations, mood swings, being cooperative and considerate, and meticulousness which have been associated with increased incidence of burnout.[1],[2],[5] Freudenberger emphasized that it is imperative to identify that burnout is not a sudden alteration but represents an accumulation of factors related to duties and work settings over a period of time.[3]

  Characteristics of Burnout Top

Research has identified three major characteristics of burnout syndrome as:

  1. Emotional exhaustion described as weariness, dwindling of energy, fatigue, and lethargy
  2. Detachment and cynicism described as adverse or incongruous attitudes, disconnected outlook, agitation, less idealistic toward patients and profession, and abandonment
  3. Decreased feeling of individual achievement and professional inadequacy also described as diminished output or competence, low confidence and self-esteem, and incapability to manage and handle patients.[5]

  Consequences of Burnout Top

Burnout can have important health-related effects, leading to physical as well as psychological complications including dejection, apprehension, diminished self-respect, guiltiness, and increased frustration.

Work-related concerns can manifest as discontentedness, diminished quality of care, errors in patient management, unwarranted absence, lack of interest, and negligence.

Finally, the social impact on the health professionals may manifest as family problems and work-home clashes, which in turn can affect the quality of life.[2],[6]

  Global and Indian Scenario Top

There have been numerous studies that have explored the prevalence and the contributing factors for burnout among healthcare professionals in developed countries from North America, Europe, and Australasia as well as several studies that exist in various parts of India.[4],[7] These studies suggest that nowadays, most health professionals are trying to survive rather than flourish in their professions.[4],[7] Further, educational institutions also should be aware that the imminent generation of healthcare professionals may be more at risk for burnout as compared to older generations as they are less amenable to criticism and challenges.[1],[2]

  Prevention and Interventions Top

Innovative strategies for prevention of burnout include facilitation of a culture in which faculty of all ranks have more flexibility in their work, a superior sense of satisfaction and recognition of their achievements and success are desirable; which in turn enables sustenance of healthy work personnel and work environment.[1],[2] Hospital administrative policies need to be reformed to include intercessions for the well-being of their staff. Interventions for burnout can be aimed for the individual to enhance the professional's emotional reserves to handle work-related factors; or can focus on the surroundings, endeavoring to alter the work-related settings and to reduce the stress factors; or both together. Interventions to combat stress can also be categorized as primary interventions that intend to reduce recognized risk issues in all the health professionals and secondary interventions that focus on a restricted set of high-risk professionals for the prevention of burnout. Tertiary intercessions are used for professionals who are experiencing burnout to avert loss of personnel.[2],[7]

  Conclusion Top

The effect of burnout on patient safety and quality of care cannot be overlooked and necessitates consideration. Thus, identifying the factors related to burnout should be an important concern, and tackling these matters at the organizational level as well as professional aspects could assist in relieving stressfulness and ensure contentment and satisfaction among the healthcare professionals. It is vital that healthcare professionals involved in clinical as well as academic training should have the knowledge regarding methods to alleviate professional stress and pressures. It is also the responsibility of the employers, institutions, hospitals, and healthcare systems to implement policies to thwart burnout and revitalize the healthcare professionals.

  References Top

McMahon GT. Managing the most precious resource in medicine. N Engl J Med 2018;378:1552-4.  Back to cited text no. 1
Bridgeman PJ, Bridgeman MB, Barone J. Burnout syndrome among healthcare professionals. Am J Health Syst Pharm 2018;75:147-52.  Back to cited text no. 2
Freudenberger HJ. Staff burn-out. J Soc Issues 1974;30:159-65.  Back to cited text no. 3
Aholaa K, Toppinen-Tannera S, Seppänen J. Interventions to alleviate burnout symptoms and to support return to work among employees with burnout: Systematic review and meta-analysis. Burn Res 2017;4:1-11.  Back to cited text no. 4
Maslach C, Jackson SE. The measurement of experienced burnout. J Occup Psychol 1981;2:99-113.  Back to cited text no. 5
Dyrbye LN, Shanafelt TD, Sinsky CA, Cipriano PF, Bhatt J, Ommaya A, et al. Burnout among health care professionals: A call to explore and address this under recognized threat to safe, high-quality care burnout among health care professionals: A call to explore and address this under recognized threat to safe, high-quality care. NAM Perspectives. Discussion Paper. Washington, DC: National Academy of Medicine; 2017.  Back to cited text no. 6
Langade D, Modi PD, Sidhwa YF, Hishikar NA, Gharpure AS, Wankhade K, et al. Burnout syndrome among medical practitioners across India: A questionnaire-based survey. Cureus 2016;8:e771.  Back to cited text no. 7


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  In this article
   What is Burnout?...
  Causes for Burnout
   Characteristics ...
   Consequences of ...
   Global and India...
   Prevention and I...

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