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Burnout syndrome and quality of life in intensivists


Burnout is a prolonged response to chronic emotional and interpersonal stressors on the job, and is defined by three dimensions: exhaustion, cynism (depersonalization), and inefficacy [1]. ICU physicians are exposed to several stress factors and are particularly predisposed to this syndrome [2].


To describe the prevalence of burnout syndrome among intensivists and its relation to their quality of life.


An epidemiological cross-sectional survey conducted to evaluate all adult ICU physicians in Salvador, BA (Brazil), from October to December 2006. The quality of life and burnout syndrome were evaluated respectively by the WHOQOL-Bref instrument [3] and the Maslach Burnout Inventory (MBI) [1]. Burnout was classified into low, moderate and high levels for the three studied dimensions, according the MBI classification, and it was defined by the presence of a high level in at least one dimension. The quality of life was evaluated in four domains: physical, psychological, social relationships and environment, graduated from 0 to 100, with higher scores denoting higher quality-of-life.


A total of 297 intensivists were enrolled (88.4% of the eligible population). The mean age was 34.2 ± 6.9 years and 71.7% were male. The mean time since graduation was 10.0 ± 6.7 years. Burnout syndrome was observed in 63.3% (n = 188) of intensivists. A high burnout level was observed in 7.4%, 22.2% and 33.7%, for three, two and one dimensions, respectively. Moderate to high levels of exhaustion, depersonalization and inefficacy were found in 79.9%, 51.0% and 54.8%, respectively. The mean score found in the four domains of quality of life were: physical, 68.0 ± 15.6; psychological, 64.5 ± 14.5; social relationships, 62.0 ± 19.6; environment, 60.0 ± 13.7. Intensivists with burnout syndrome had lower mean scores of quality of life in the physical (75.8 ± 13.8 vs 63.5 ± 14.7), psychological (72.3 ± 11.3 vs 59.9 ± 14.0), social relationships (70.6 ± 16.9 vs 57.0 ± 19.4) and environment (66.4 ± 12.7 vs 56.3 ± 12.8) domains (P < 0.001).


Intensivists presented high prevalence of burnout syndrome, which was related to lower quality of life. These data indicate that strategies must be discussed to prevent this syndrome in this population.


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Barros, D.d.S., Tironi, M., Sobrinho, C. et al. Burnout syndrome and quality of life in intensivists. Crit Care 11, P95 (2007).

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  • Public Health
  • Emergency Medicine
  • Social Relationship
  • Stress Factor
  • Eligible Population