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Minerva Psichiatrica 2008 December;49(4):321-7


language: Italian

Burnout syndrome among health professionals: analysis influencing variables

Puricelli O. 1, Callegari S. 2, Pavacci V. 2, Caielli A. 2, Raposio E. 2

1 Struttura Sanitaria di Psicologia Istituto Nazionale per la Ricerca sul Cancro-IST Genova, Italia 2 Struttura Complessa di Chirurgia Plastica e Ricostruttiva Istituto Nazionale per la Ricerca sul Cancro-IST Genova, Italia


In the 1970s Freudenberger focuses his attention on one of the possible manifestations of stress caused by work, especially in those professionals committed to providing help, in particular health professionals. Stress caused by work is defined as burnout. The incidence of alcoholism, cirrhosis, suicide and marital crises among physicians suggests that there is an urgent necessity to examine etiological and predisposing factors, clinical signs and strategies for managing this form of stress. Burnout is identified by three factors (emotional exhaustion, depersonalization and professional fulfilment) and develops in four phases: idealistic enthusiasm, stagnation, frustration and professional death. It influences not only the personal level but tends to spread with a ping pong effect from one team member to another and from team members to patients, therefore involving the whole service organisation as well as the single individuals. The aim of this research was to analyse the different variables (age, sex, role and seniority) that can lead to burnout. The investigation was carried out by means of an anonymous self-compiled questionnaire distributed to all personnel (physicians working in the structure, physicians doing specific courses, attending physicians and also students of medicine) based on one standard model: the Maslach Burnout Inven-tory. At the moment our investigation, including a small sample of the population, represents a pilot study which could be extended, after having implemented the proper modifications, to a larger sample of the population. In conclusion, we suggest some organisational strategies to minimise the risk of the onset of this syndrome.

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