Gabrielė Čėsnaitė1, Ugnė Krunkaitytė1, Mantas Žemaitaitis1
1Faculty of Medicine, Lithuanian University of Health Sciences, Kaunas, Lithuania
What is burnout? Burnout (which is also referred
as professional or emotional exhaustion) is linked to development of symptoms specific to depression and anxiety disorders because of the work-related chronic stress. Relevance of this issue is based on growing prevalence of burnout among health care workers, despite increasing interest in this disease and its prevention. In this article we studied medical publications about incidence of burnout among various specialties of physicians, causes of burnout occurrence, consequences of untreated burnout and possible interventions to combat it.
Why are physicians at risk? Burnout is associated with specialties that are characterized by greater mental and emotional stress. Healthcare workers also fall into this concept. Burnout is more common among younger and less experienced physicians and residents, especially women. Professional exhaustion might be also induced by longer work hours and marital status.
Why is it important? Untreated burnout might cause a wide spectrum of adverse consequences. A constant state of mental and emotional tension in the workplace might lead to the development of other psychological and/or physical diseases or accelerate the onset of one. Moreover, emotionally exhausted physicians appear to be at an increased risk of errors during their work which poses an increased potential risk of patient safety violation. On a bigger scale, the government loses a great amount of money by ignoring the relevance and significance of physicians’ burnout.
What should we do next? Since professional exhaustion does not mind the age or specialty of physicians it is very important to apply the efficient interventions as soon and as widely as possible to prevent burnout. There are two main types of interventions: individual and organizational. These interventions seem to be efficient when used separately but it is expected to reach even higher efficacy in burnout management by applying those two methods together in clinical practice.
Keywords: burnout, emotional exhaustion, professional exhaustion, occupational disease, physicians.