Level of Burnout Among Nurses Working in Oncology in an Italian Region

Rosanna Quattrin

Antonietta Zanini

Ester Nascig

Maria Antonietta Annunziata

Laura Calligaris

Silvio Brusaferro

ONF 2006, 33(4), 815-820. DOI: 10.1188/06.ONF.815-820

Purpose/Objectives: To estimate the level of burnout among nurses working on oncology wards and to identify the risk factors of burnout and the strategies used to prevent and deal with stress.

Design: Descriptive study.

Setting: Oncology wards in public hospitals in a northeastern Italian region.

Sample: 100 nurses working on oncology wards.

Methods: Head nurses of the oncology wards were personally informed about the aims of the study and were asked to distribute a questionnaire among the staff nurses and collect them after completion. The questionnaire had 58 items divided into three parts: sociodemographic and job characteristics of the population, the Maslach Burnout Inventory modified for Italian healthcare workers, and the respondents' perceptions about coping mechanisms and strategies adopted by the organization to help the nurses cope with stress.

Main Research Variables: Levels of burnout according to the Maslach Burnout Inventory.

Findings: The global response rate was 71% (100 of 140); 35% of the nurses had a high level of emotional exhaustion, 17% had a high level of depersonalization, and 11% had a high level of personal achievement. Significantly high levels of emotional exhaustion were found in nurses older than 40 with a working seniority of more than 15 years, those who had chosen to work on an oncology ward, and those who wanted another work assignment. The mean emotional exhaustion in subjects who identified lack of coordination (disorganization) as an important cause of stress was 24.5 (SD = 10.6), whereas the mean score in the nurses who did not cite disorganization as a cause of stress was 18.3 (SD = 12.0).

Conclusions: An important cause of stress reported by nurses is poor organization; therefore, hospitals should focus attention on specific organizational aspects.

Implications for Nursing: Knowledge of the mechanisms of burnout and strategies to prevent and deal with them are important for nurses' psychophysical health and constitute a fundamental requirement in a policy that aims to improve quality in health services.

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