Background: Few data are available regarding the prevalence of burnout among dialysis health care workers. Aims of the present study were to assess and compare burnout levels in a sample of nurses and physicians working in dialysis units, and to investigate their relationships with quality of life, in a cross-sectional observational study.
Methods: A total of 344 workers from 10 dialysis centres in Northern Italy completed a battery of questionnaires including the Maslach Burnout Inventory, the MOS-36 Item Short Form Health Survey [SF36: physical (PCS) and mental (MCS) component scores] and the 30-item General Health Questionnaire (GHQ30). Data on social and demographic characteristics and working conditions were also collected. General Estimating Equations models were used for the analysis.
Results: Overall, burnout scores were lower than the Italian normative sample, with no significant differences between physicians and nurses. However, 30% of nurses had high emotional exhaustion vs 18% of physicians (adjusted OR 2.38, P = 0.003). Emotional exhaustion was also predicted by number of worked hours and months worked in dialysis in the previous 2 years. Depersonalisation was predicted by male gender and bad relationship with coworkers. Having no children and having a permanent hospital position predicted low personal accomplishment. PCS was lower in nurses (50.0 vs 53.3, P < 0.001), while no significant difference was found for MCS and GHQ30. Lower PCS was associated with emotional exhaustion (P = 0.007) and GHQ30 > 5 with depersonalization (P = 0.032).
Conclusions: Although burnout is not a general problem in dialysis health care providers, a subgroup of them may be identified, who would benefit from supportive measures to prevent this condition. Nurses appeared more burned-out in the emotional exhaustion scale than physicians.