Nursing Burnout: Self-care in Healthcare
What Causes Nursing Burnout?
What Are the Signs of Nurse Burnout?
What Are the Consequences of Nursing Burnout?
How to Combat Burnout in Nursing
There is no universal measurement for burnout. Studies vary in how they quantify this information, and a consensus on how to classify burnout as a condition has not been reached within the industry. However, while burnout exists on a spectrum, signs can be observed in three areas—physical and emotional exhaustion, cynicism and detachment, and feelings of ineffectiveness and lack of accomplishment.
The rate of burnout among nurses depends on how it is measured by research. According to a 2019 report on nursing engagement [PDF 888 KB], 14.4% of nurses were “unengaged” with their work, with 41% of those respondents reporting feelings of burnout. Another study found that 35.3% of nurse respondents had symptoms of burnout. Burnout rates can also vary by practice. A study focused on burnout in primary nurses addressed three aspects of burnout and found that 28% reported high emotional exhaustion prevalence, 15% reported high depersonalization, and 31% reported low personal accomplishment.
These variations reinforce the importance of viewing burnout on a spectrum, as well as providing tools and resources for nurses to address burnout symptoms.
Moral distress is the inability of a moral agent to act according to their core values and perceived obligations due to internal and external constraints. For nurses, this type of ethical dilemma can cause feelings of powerlessness and detachment, which can add to feelings of burnout.
Sometimes referred to as secondary traumatization, compassion fatigue occurs when an individual works with patients suffering from the consequences of traumatic events, which can leave the individual feeling emotionally drained. Burnout can be caused by many factors, whereas compassion fatigue is stress caused specifically by exposure to trauma. Compassion fatigue can be a contributing factor in burnout among nurses.