Purpose of review: Burnout syndrome is a psychological state resulting from prolonged exposure to job stressors. Because ICUs are characterized by a high level of work-related stress, a factor known to increase the risk of burnout syndrome, we sought to review the available literature on burnout syndrome in ICU healthcare workers.
Recent findings: Based on most recent studies, severe burnout syndrome (as measured using the Maslach Burnout Inventory) is present in about 50% of critical care physicians and in one third of critical care nurses. Strikingly, determinants of burnout syndrome are different in the two groups of caregivers. Namely, intensivists who have severe burnout syndrome are those with a high number of working hours (number of night shifts and time from last vacation) but determinants of severe burnout syndrome in ICU-nurses are related to ICU organization and end-of-life-related characteristics. ICU conflicts, however, were independent predictors of severe burnout syndrome in both groups.
Summary: Recent studies reported high levels of severe burnout syndrome in ICU healthcare workers and identified potential targets for preventive strategies such as ICU working groups, communication strategies during end-of-life care and prevention and management of ICU conflicts.