Risk of burnout and protective factors in palliative care

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

1 Citation (Scopus)


Burnout refers to a loss of energy that usually happens when the person feels ‘burned’, either in physical or psychological terms. A burned out person evidences signs of distress in his/her daily behaviour, and it comes to be almost impossible to perform normally due to fatigue. The contact with death, dying and human suffering is commonly described as one of the risk factors for burnout development. Complementarily, palliative care practice implies ethical decision making related to end-of-life dilemmas, which may be complex and demanding. Therefore, the provision of palliative care may lead health care providers to physical, psychological and emotional exhaustion and it is possible that burnout occurs. Despite this fact, studies about burnout in palliative care show low levels of burnout, especially when compared with the results obtained in other health care settings. These results converge with those found in a study about professional caregiver burnout carried out in Portuguese palliative care units. We realized that one of the protective factors referred by Portuguese professionals was the attribution of a meaningful sense to death, dying and suffering. This sense and the definition of active strategies and rituals after death helped professionals to deal with the loss of the patient.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationExploring issues of care, dying and the end of life
EditorsSue Steele, Glenys Caswell
Number of pages10
ISBN (Electronic)9781848880580
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2020


  • Burnout
  • Palliative care
  • Preventive strategies
  • Protective factors
  • Risk factors


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