Burnout in intensive care: what can account on differences between doctors and nurses in the same settings? A multicentre descriptive study

Carla Teixeira*, Orquídea Ribeiro, António M. Fonseca, Ana S. Carvalho

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


There is the perception that professionals working in Intensive Care Units (ICUs) are particularly exposed to stress which can lead to burnout. Previous studies have shown differences in burnout levels among nurses and physicians working in ICUs. The aim of this study is to identify and explore the differences in burnout levels between physicians and nurses working in the same Intensive Care (IC) settings in Portugal, and to hypothesize what can account on these differences. A cross-sectional study was conducted, in ten ICUs in the Region of Northern Portugal, using self-reporting questionnaires for the evaluation of the frequency and intensity of burnout syndrome: Maslach Burnout Inventory (MBI), socio-demographic, academic and professional factors, as well as work experiences. Statistical analysis was performed using SPSS ® v.18.0. From a total of 461 eligible intensive care personnel, 218 physicians and 82 nurses participated in the study; 33% of nurses and 25% of physicians exhibited high burnout levels (considering both the professionals in burnout and in high risk of burnout). Distribution of subdimensions of burnout by occupational category indicated higher levels of emotional exhaustion in nurses (p=0.019), higher depersonalization and higher personal and professional completion in physicians. Using MBI, differences were identified in burnout levels and burnout subdimensions between nurses and physicians working in Portuguese ICUs. Nurses exhibited higher levels of emotional exhaustion, while depersonalization and personal and professional achievement were higher among physicians. The factors that can account on this are both related to socio-demographic variables and work experiences as well. Strategies need to be adopted by these teams in order to prevent burnout.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEncyclopedia of nursing
PublisherNova Science Publishers, Inc.
Number of pages12
ISBN (Electronic)9781536177985
ISBN (Print)9781536177978
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2020


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