Burnout has been increasingly recognized as a major challenge for healthcare providers and those who rely on them. The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated burnout among several populations of healthcare providers and exposed them to working conditions that are unprecedented. A new study published in the Journal of Advanced Nursing has revealed the specific effects of COVID-19 on burnout amongst nurses.
For their study, researchers looked at data from January to November of 2020 and applied a random effect model toevaluate pooled effects. Ultimately, 16 studies that covered data from nearly 19,000 nurses met inclusion criteria and were included in their analysis.
The results showed that 34.1% of the nurses evaluated reported emotional exhaustion, whereas 15.2% reported a sense of lack of personal accomplishment and 12.6% felt a sense of depersonalization. The analysis also revealed risk factors for increasing burnout. Factors that were independent of the pandemic itself were age and social support, with younger nurses more likely to be burned out than older nurses and those with less social support more likely to be burned out than those with more social support.
Other factors related directly to attitudes about the pandemic or working conditions during the outbreak. For example, people who perceived the virus as more threatening were more likely to experience burnout, as were those whose family and colleagues were less able to cope with the outbreak. Those working more in quarantined areas or in high-risk environments were also at heightened risk for burnout. Similarly, those with less PPE and less COVID-19-specific training were more likely to report burnout.
The full psychological effects of COVID-19 on healthcare providers are yet to be determined, but it is clear that certain factors affect the likelihood of burnout. Thus far, the data point to more support and protection for nurses as ways to combat their burnout and ensure that they can cope well with this pandemic. These lessons should be incorporated into nurse programming in the future so that we are equipped to help nurses adjust as needed to unpredictable circumstances and working conditions.
Galanis, P. et al. (2021). Nurses; burnout and associated risk factors during the COVID-19 pandemic: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Journal of Advanced Nursing: 10.1111/jan.14839.