Occupational burnout levels in emergency medicine--a nationwide study and analysis

J Med Life. 2010 Jul-Sep;3(3):207-15.


Introduction: The specificity of the emergency medical act strongly manifests itself on account of a wide series of psycho-traumatizing factors augmented both by the vulnerable situation of the patient and the paroxysmal state of the act. Also, it has been recognized that the physical solicitation and distress levels are the highest among all medical specialties, this being a valuable marker for establishing the quality of the medical act.

Material and methods: We have surveyed a total of 4725 emergency medical workers with the MBI-HSS instrument, receiving 4693 valid surveys (99.32% response rate). Professional categories included Emergency Department doctors (M-EMD), ambulance doctors (M-AMB), ED doctors with field work in emergency and resuscitation (including mobile intensive care units and airborne intensive care units) (D-SMU), medical nurses in Emergency Departments (N-EMD), medical nurses in the ambulance service (N-AMB), ED medical nurses with field activity in emergency and resuscitation (N-SMU), ambulance drivers (DRV) and paramedic (EMT). The n values for every category of subjects and percentage of system coverage (table 3) shows that we have covered an estimated total of 29.94% of the Romanian emergency medical field workers.

Results: MBI-HSS results show a moderate to high level of occupational stress for the surveyed subjects. The average values for the three parameters, corresponding to the entire Romanian emergency medical field were 1.41 for EE, 0.99 for DP and 4.47 for PA (95% CI). Average results stratified by professional category show higher EE average values (v) for the M-SMU (v=2.01, 95%CI) and M-EMD (v=2.21, 95% CI) groups corresponding to higher DP values for the same groups (vM-EMD=1.41 and vM-SMU=1.22, 95% CI). PA values for these groups are below average, corresponding to an increased risk factor for high degrees of burnout. Calculated PA values are 4.30 for the M-EMD group and 4.20 for the M-SMU group.

Conclusions: Of all surveyed groups, our study shows a high risk of burnout consisting of high emotional exhaustion (EE) and high depersonalization (DP) values for Emergency Department doctors, Emergency, and Resuscitation Service doctors (M-SMU). Possible explanations for this might be linked to high patient flow, Emergency Department crowding, long work hours and individual parameters such as coping mechanisms, social development and work environment.

MeSH terms

  • Burnout, Professional* / epidemiology
  • Burnout, Professional* / psychology
  • Data Collection
  • Emergency Medical Technicians / psychology
  • Emergency Medical Technicians / statistics & numerical data
  • Emergency Medicine* / statistics & numerical data
  • Emergency Nursing / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Romania / epidemiology
  • Stress, Psychological