Burnout in Portuguese Healthcare Professionals: An Analysis at the National Level

João Marôco, Ana Lúcia Marôco, Ema Leite, Cristina Bastos, Maria José Vazão, Juliana Campos

Abstract


Introduction: Burnout is a psychological syndrome, characterized by a state of high emotional exhaustion, high depersonalization and low personal accomplishment, which leads to erosion of personal, professional and health values. This study reports the incidence of burnout in Portuguese Healthcare professionals.
Material and Methods: Burnout in Portugal’s health professionals was assessed with the Maslach Burnout Inventory - Human Services Survey, using a zero (never) to six (always) ordinal scale, on a sample of 1 262 nurses and 466 physicians with mean age of 36.8 year (SD = 12.2) and 38.7 (SD = 11.0), respectively. Participants came from all national districts (35% Lisbon, 18% Oporto, 6% Aveiro, 6% Setúbal, 5% Coimbra, 5% Azores and Madeira), working in hospitals (54%), Families’ Health Units (30%), Personalized Health Units (8%) and other public or private institutions (8%).
Results: Analysis of MBI-HSS scores, stratified by district, revealed that both types of professionals had moderate to high levels of burnout (M = 3.0, SD = 1.7) with no significant differences between the two groups. Vila Real (M = 3.8, SD = 1.7) and Madeira (M = 2.5, SD = 1.5) were the regions where burnout levels were higher and lower, respectively. Burnout levels did not differ significantly between Hospital, Personalized Health Units and Families’ Health Centers. Professionals with more years in the function were less affected by Burnout (r = -0.15). No significant association was observed with the duration of the working day (r = 0.04). The strongest predictor of burnout was the perceived quality of working conditions (r = -0.35).
Discussion: The occurrence of the burnout syndrome in Portuguese health professionals is frequent, being associated with a poor working conditions perception and reduced professional experience. The incidence of the burnout syndrome shows regional differences which may be associated with different and suboptimal conditions for health care delivery. Results suggest the need for interventions aimed at improving working conditions and initial job training of health professionals, as requisites for a good professional practice and personal well-being.
Conclusions: At the national level, between 2011 and 2013, 21.6% of healthcare professionals showed moderate burnout and 47.8% showed high burnout. The perception of poor working conditions was the main predictor of burnout occurrence among the Portuguese health professionals.


Keywords


Burnout, Professional; Health Personnel; Portugal.

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