Objectives: The aim of this study was to describe the factors associated with work stress and burnout among dental hygienists. Furthermore, how to deal with work stressors in order to prevent burnout in the dental hygienist work environment will be discussed.
Methods: From a small literature search, only a few empirical studies could be traced that describe work stress or burnout among dental hygienists.
Results: Burnout incidence among dental hygienists appears to be relatively favourable, when compared with other professions, according to a 20-year-old study. On the contrary, in a recent study, it was described that one out of eight dental hygienists felt emotionally exhausted from work. Dental hygienists, when compared with other professionals, are relatively negative about the variety of tasks they find in their work. Factors associated with experienced work stress are, according to another study, musculoskeletal pain, combining work and private life, highly efficient organization of work, long working hours, working without assistant, difficult or demanding patients, lack of leisure time, lack of support by practice management and doubts about one's own capabilities. Some factors that may prevent burnout are: recognition of one's own work pressure, learning to unwind, time management and organization of work, realistic career expectancies, social skills, healthy life-style, peer-group contacts and pre-graduate reflection.
Conclusions: There appears to be a lack of recent data on burnout among dental hygienists. Although some knowledge exists on work stressors, a thorough investigation on burnout incidence, risk factors, as well as job resources is needed.