Objectives: The aims of the paper are to examine the role of burnout in the relationship between stress factors related to nurses' work and social environment and intention to leave the profession and to investigate the nature of the relationship between burnout and intention to leave the nursing profession.
Background: A postulate of the job demands-resources model is that two distinct yet related processes contribute to the development of burnout. The energetic process originates from demands and is mainly centered on emotional exhaustion; the motivational process originates from resources and is mainly centered on depersonalization. Moreover, we postulated that the two components of burnout are linked indirectly to intention to leave the profession via psychosomatic complaints, associated with the energetic process, and via professional commitment, associated with the motivational process.
Method: The research model was tested on cross-sectional data collected in 2005 from 1636 registered nurses working in hospitals who responded to a self-administrated questionnaire.
Results: Demands are the most important determinants of emotional exhaustion and indirectly induce depersonalization via emotional exhaustion, whereas resources mainly predict depersonalization. Moreover, emotional exhaustion and depersonalization are linked to psychosomatic complaints and professional commitment, which are in turn associated with intention to leave the profession.
Conclusion: The results suggest that a dual strategy is needed in order to retain nurses within the profession: a decrease in job demands, coupled with an increase in available job resources. In particular, nurses' tasks and role should be restructured to reduce work overload and increase the meaning of their work.
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