Composition of ICU Team Affects Professional Burnout

Having an increased proportion of female nurses on the team linked to decreased burnout risk

WEDNESDAY, Aug. 31 (HealthDay News) -- The composition of caregiver teams in intensive care units (ICUs) affects the risk of professional burnout, with an increased proportion of female nurses associated with a decreased risk, according to a study published online Aug. 18 in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

Paolo Merlani, M.D., from the University of Geneva in Switzerland, and colleagues investigated the potentially important factors associated with caregiver burnout in ICUs on a national level. A total of 4,322 questionnaires were distributed to all caregivers from 74 Swiss ICUs between March 2006 and April 2007. Of these, 3,052 were returned, with a response rate of 72 percent by center, 69 percent from physicians, 73 percent from nurses, and 69 percent from nurse-assistants. The prevalence of burnout among the caregivers, and the factors influencing the prevalence (pre-specified center-, patient-, and caregiver-related) were the main outcome measures.

The investigators found that a high proportion of female nurses among the team correlated with a decreased individual risk of high burnout (odds ratio for every percent, 0.98; 95 percent confidence interval, 0.97 to 0.99). Male gender, being a nurse-assistant, having no children, and being under age 40 years were caregiver factors associated with a high risk of burnout.

"The findings of this study suggest for the first time that the composition of the team in our case the percentage of female nurses, could be one of the major determinants of burnout in ICUs," the authors write.

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