Introduction: Burnout in nursing is of both individual and organizational concern with ramifications for well-being, job performance, absenteeism and turnover. Burnout is rarely assessed as part of a comprehensive model of occupational stress, a short-coming which this paper attempts to redress.
Method: A randomly selected sample of 510 psychiatric nurses from one Scottish Trust completed a questionnaire based on a psychological model of occupational stress which included the Maslach Burnout Inventory (MBI) as the dependent variable.
Findings: The respondents reported average, low and average levels of emotional exhaustion, depersonalization and personal accomplishment, respectively. The study sample had significantly lower scores on emotional exhaustion and depersonalization than normative data but also significantly lower levels of personal accomplishment than a normative group of physicians and nurses. Only 2.0% of the study sample could be categorized as having high burnout overall (i.e. high emotional exhaustion, high depersonalization, low personal accomplishment) and they differed significantly from the rest only in terms of males being over-represented. Hierarchical regression analysis revealed that selected explanatory variables accounted for 41.9% of emotional exhaustion, 16.4% of depersonalization and 25.6% of personal accomplishment in the study sample.
Implications: The paper discusses the implications of the findings in terms of a comprehensive approach to intervention aimed at minimizing the risk of burnout in psychiatric nurses. Such an approach will involve interventions at the organizational and individual level.