Rationale: The stressful work environment of ICUs can lead to burnout. Burnout can impact on the welfare and performance of caregivers, and may lead them to resign their job. The shortage of ICU caregivers is becoming a real threat for health care leaders.
Objectives: To investigate the factors associated with burnout on a national level in order to determine potential important factors.
Methods: Prospective, multicenter, observational survey of all caregivers from 74 of the 92 Swiss ICUs, measuring the prevalence of burnout among the caregivers and the pre-specified center-, patient- and caregiver-related factors influencing its prevalence.
Measurements and main results: Out of the 4322 questionnaires distributed from March 2006 to April 2007, 3052 (71%) were returned, with a response rate of 72% by center, 69% from nurse-assistants, 73% from nurses and 69% from physicians. A high proportion of female nurses among the team was associated with a decreased individual risk of high burnout (OR 0.98, 95% CI:0.97-0.99 for every %). The caregiver-related factors associated with a high risk of burnout were being a nurse-assistant, being a male, having no children and being under 40 years old.
Conclusions: The findings of this study seem to open a new frontier concerning burnout in ICUs, highlighting the importance of team composition. Our results should be confirmed in a prospective multicenter, multinational study. Whether our results can be exported to other medical settings where team-working is pivotal remains to be investigated.