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Depression and burnout syndrome in intensive care unit nurses


Frequent exposure to stressful events in the ICU may have been associated with increased prevalence of depression and burnout. This study was planned to assess the burnout syndrome and its relation with depression in nursing staff of the ICU in Turkey.

Materials and methods

Mixed, surgical and internal medicine intensive care unit (ICU) nurses and non-ICU nurses (n = 178) who have been working in a metropolitan university (UH) and in state hospitals (SH) for at least 1 year enrolled to the study (UH mixed ICU n = 21, UH surgical ICU n = 19, UH internal medicine ICU n = 17, SH mixed ICU n = 18, SH surgical ICU n = 23, SH internal medicine ICU n = 21, UH anaesthesia nurses n = 22, UH operating room nurses n = 37). Anaesthesia and operating room nurses, and non-ICU nurses, were considered as control groups as they do not take part in the follow-up of the patients. Beck depression (0–63), and the Maslach burnout inventory adapted for a Turkish population were used to assess depression and burnout respectively [1, 2]. The latter has three subscales: emotional exhaustion (0–36), depersonalisation (0–20) and personal accomplishment (0–32). One-way ANOVA with Bonferroni's post hoc test and the chi-square test were used and P < 0.05 was considered significant. Pearson correlation analysis was done to investigate the ingroup correlation of Beck depression and subscales of the Maslach burnout inventory. Values are expressed as the mean and SD.


The demographic data were similar among groups. The Beck depression scores of the nurses in the university hospital (16.6 ± 9) were higher than that in the state hospitals (13.1 ± 8) (P = 0.028). The Beck depression scores of the mixed ICU nurses in the university hospital (19.8 ± 8) were higher then that in the non-ICU nurses (12.8 ± 7.6) (P = 0.001). Depersonalisation scores of surgical ICU nurses in the university hospital (7.8 ± 4) were higher than those in the non-ICU nurses (5.6 ± 3.6) (P = 0.03). Although a significant difference was not found among the nurses working in different ICUs in terms of the Beck depression inventory, mixed ICU nurses had considerable depression (mixed ICU 17.4 ± 8, surgical ICU 13.6 ± 9, internal medicine ICU 13.5 ± 8 or non-ICU group 12.8 ± 7.6) when considering all ICU nurses together. Positive correlation was found in all groups between the Beck depression score and emotional exhaustion except in the control group (P < 0.01, r >v0.52).


Nurses operating in the ICU, especially in the mixed ICU, may have a tendency to depression. All ICU staff should be aware of depression and burnout possibilities, and their consequences.


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Özgencil, E., Ünal, N., Oral, M. et al. Depression and burnout syndrome in intensive care unit nurses. Crit Care 8 (Suppl 1), P340 (2004).

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