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Occupational stress and burnout in anaesthesia

by A. S. Nyssen, I. Hansez, P. Baele, M. Lamy, V. De Keyser
British Journal of Anaesthesia ()

Abstract

BACKGROUND: Formal studies on stress in anaesthetists have usually measured stress through mental or physiological indicators. When using this approach, one must be careful not to confuse the effects of stress or outcome variables and the sources of stress or antecedent variables. To date, it seems from the literature that there is no clear evidence of a common pattern of physiological effects of stress for all the sources of stress. Furthermore, work characteristics such as job satisfaction, job control and job support may moderate the effects of stress. METHODS: We measured the effects of stress together with the sources of stress and job characteristics, using self-reported questionnaires rather than physiological indicators in order to better diagnose stress in anaesthetists. RESULTS: The mean stress level in anaesthetists was 50.6 which is no higher than we found in other working populations. The three main sources of stress reported were a lack of control over time management, work planning and risks. Anaesthetists reported high empowerment, high work commitment, high job challenge and high satisfaction. However, 40.4% of the group were suffering from high emotional exhaustion (burnout); the highest rate was in young trainees under 30 years of age. CONCLUSIONS: Remedial actions are discussed at the end of the paper.

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