Burnout among Physicians Working in Palliative Care During the COVID-19 Pandemic in Portugal: A Cross-Sectional Study
Keywords:Burnout, Professional, Psychological, COVID-19, Palliative Care, Physicians, Portugal
Introduction: Physicians working in palliative care have a greater risk of burnout. Burnout has three dimensions: emotional exhaustion, depersonalization and reduction of personal accomplishments. Burnout is associated with different consequences for the professionals like less professional satisfaction and increase of overall levels of exhaustion. Burnout in healthcare professionals has an impact in the patients with increased probability of clinical erros. In order to monitor the quality of the care it is mandatory to assess overall levels of burnout. This study aimed to determine burnout levels and associated variables of physicians working in the Portuguese national network of palliative care.
Material and Methods: A cross-sectional, exploratory and quantitative design was employed and participants were sampled using convenience and snowball technique. The Copenhagen Burnout Inventory was used to determine burnout levels of physicians working in the Portuguese National Network of Palliative Care. The contributions of personal, work and COVID-19 variables were evaluated in three subclasses: work, personal and patient-related burnout. The results obtained enabled the identification of healthcare professionals at risk, comparison with previous results published and to assess the impact of COVID-19 in their non COVID-19 activity.
Results: Seventy-five physicians participated. Socio-demographic characterization was conducted and the levels of burnout and determinants were explored. High levels of personal, work and patient-related burnout were present in 32 (43%), 39 (52%) and 16 (21%) physicians, respectively. The majority agreed that COVID-19 had an impact on their activities. Exclusive dedication to palliative care and type of palliative care unit were associated with lower levels of patient and work-related burnout. Weekly physical activity was associated with lower levels of work and personal burnout. Self-perceived health status was associated with lower levels of burnout for all subclasses.
Conclusion: There was a high level of burnout among physicians working in the Portuguese National Network of Palliative Care. Measures to identify and prevent burnout are necessary in order to protect these professionals.
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