Relationship between burnout and occupational stress among nurses in China

J Adv Nurs. 2007 Aug;59(3):233-9. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2648.2007.04301.x. Epub 2007 Jun 21.


Aim: This article is a report of a study of occupational burnout among nurses in China.

Background: Burnout is described as feelings of emotional exhaustion, depersonalization and reduced personal accomplishment. It is well-known that burnout is a major problem for many professions. Nurses are considered to be particularly susceptible to this. Measuring burnout among nurses is important because their well-being has implications for stability in the healthcare workforce and for the quality of care provided.

Method: The sample consisted of 495 nurses from three provincial hospitals in China. The Maslach Burnout Inventory -- General Survey (MBI-GS) was used to measure burnout, and the Occupational Stress Inventory -- Revised edition was used to measure two dimensions of occupational adjustment (occupational stress and coping resources). After statistical testing for validity and reliability of the MBI-GS with nurses in China, participants' scores were evaluated and analysed.

Results: Scores for burnout of surgical and medical nurses were statistically significantly higher than those of other nurses (P < 0.05). Lower educational status was associated with lower professional efficacy, and younger nurses reported higher levels of burnout. The most significant predictors of emotional exhaustion were role overload, responsibility, role insufficiency and self-care (P < 0.05). The most significant predictors of cynicism were role insufficiency, role boundary, responsibility and self-care (P < 0.05). The most significant predictors of professional efficacy were role insufficiency, social support and rational/cognitive coping (P < 0.05).

Conclusion: It is important to reduce occupational stress in nurses and to strengthen their coping resources to prevent burnout. This could be achieved with job redesign, modification of shiftwork systems, and by offering occupational health education.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Burnout, Professional / psychology*
  • China
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Nursing Staff, Hospital / psychology*
  • Workload / psychology*