BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: The purpose of this study was to determine the factors associated with burnout in physical therapists at rehabilitation hospitals. Burnout is a serious concern because it can lead to psychosomatic complaints, work-associated withdrawal behaviors, and a decreased quality of care. SUBJECTS: Full-time, nonadministrative, nonsupervisory, staff physical therapists working in inpatient settings in rehabilitation hospitals in Massachusetts were surveyed. METHODS: The survey included demographic data, the Maslach Burnout Inventory (MBI), and questions designed to address attributes of the work environment and individual personalities. The MBI scores were calculated according to instructions provided by publishers to determine the degree of burnout experienced by this group. Questions involving personality and work environment were submitted to factor analyses. Multivariate analyses were done to determine the factors related to burnout. RESULTS: Forty-six percent of the respondents scored high on the emotional exhaustion subscale of the MBI, 20% scored high on the depersonalization subscale, and 60% scored low on the personal accomplishment subscale. As a whole, the sample demonstrated moderate burnout. Three factors emerged from the factor analysis. The factors communication/connectedness, achievement, and time constraints accounted for 69% of the variability in emotional exhaustion and 73% of the variability in depersonalization and personal accomplishment. Burnout was not significantly associated with the therapists' number of years of practice, number of years on the job, or number of patients seen daily. CONCLUSION AND DISCUSSION: Recognition of factors contributing to burnout may prove to be instrumental in the prevention of burnout in physical therapists and the problems that arise from it.
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