Stress and burnout syndrome and their associations with coping and job satisfaction in critical care nurses: a literature review

Psychiatr Danub. 2019 Mar;31(Suppl 1):21-31.


Background: Burnout is usually defined as a prolonged response to chronic emotional and interpersonal stressors, characterrized by emotional exhaustion, depersonalization and lack of social accomplishment. Coping mechanisms and job satisfaction are associated with the incidence of burnout symptoms in a work context.

Subjects and methods: The aim of this paper was to make a systematic analysis of the literature related to nurses' stress and the incidence of burnout syndrome in intensive care nurses, and also to determine the research into associations between coping mechanisms and job satisfaction on one side, and burnout on the other side. Appropriate databases (Scopus, PubMed) were searched with the aim of finding relevant studies and articles published in the last 15 years. The keywords were burnout, coping mechanisms, job satisfaction, nurses, and intensive care. Two independent reviewers carried out a selection of the studies.

Results: The literature review found 786 studies about burnout and its association with different variables. Twenty-nine original research papers were discovered in this review process. Open questions still remain concerning burnout and the associations between the considered variables. We also found that studies using a qualitative approach, which could provide better insight into the investigation of burnout, was insufficient in this area.

Conclusion: Burnout syndrome is serious problem for healthcare systems and affects almost all profiles of healthcare workers. Although burnout is an evidence-based public health problem, there is still no systematic approach to prevention. Prevention activities to reduce stress and the incidence of burnout should be provided for nurses, especially those in very demanding posts.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Burnout, Professional*
  • Burnout, Psychological
  • Critical Care Nursing*
  • Humans
  • Job Satisfaction*