Background: Burnout syndrome (BS) is a chronic adaptation disorder that provokes serious problems in occupational behavior.
Objective: In the present study we assessed the prevalence of burnout syndrome in pediatric healthcare workers.
Design: Cross-sectional, descriptive study.
Material and methods: In November 2002, the Maslach Burnout Inventory was given to 127 staff members (doctors, nurses and nurse assistants) working in a pediatrics department. The questionnaire includes 22 items that explore three aspects of BS: a) emotional exhaustion; b) depersonalization, and c) personal achievement.
Results: The questionnaire was completed by 93 staff members (73.2 % of the whole sample; 83 % women and 17 % men). The mean age was 38.6 +/- 10.2 years and the median number of years worked was 10 (range: 1-37 years). Twenty-nine percent were pediatricians, 50.5 % were nurses and 20.5 % were nurse assistants. A total of 20.8 % had a high level of BS, 19.8 % had a moderate level and 59.4 % showed a low level. When sub-scales were applied, the results showed that 67.7 % of respondents presented a low level of personal achievement, 14.5 % had high scores of emotional exhaustion and 23.9 % obtained high scores in the depersonalization scale.
Conclusions: BS is present in a significant percentage of hospital workers attending pediatric patients. In our sample, the most notable component of BS was the lack of personal achievement. This finding alerted us to the eventual presence of negative attitudes toward self and professional activity, as well as to the loss of interest in pediatric care, low productivity and diminished self-esteem. We believe that specific strategies should be implemented to attenuate the factors influencing the development of BS in pediatric health staff.