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The importance of the team composition in ICUs
Date:8/23/2011

A higher proportion of female nurses among intensive care teams may decrease individuals' risk of professional burnout, according to Swiss researchers who studied the factors related to burnout in the high-stress setting of the intensive care unit (ICU).

The research was published online in the articles-in-press section of the American Thoracic Society's American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

Burnout is believed to be a psychological response to chronic stress. It can lead to emotional instability, feelings of failure and low production or an urge to leave the job.

"Avoiding and understanding burnout is especially important now, given the projected shortage of ICU caregivers, in addition to the intensity and costliness of training these specialized professionals," noted Paolo Merlani, MD, attending physician at the University Hospital of Geneva.

To evaluate risk of burnout among different individual in different settings, the researchers used a self-administered questionnaire that captured demographic data, personal characteristics, subjective stress and risk of burnout. They evaluated more than 3,000 individuals in 72 Swiss ICUs. In addition to individual characteristics, they analyzed center-level factors (e.g., proportion of female caregivers among nurses and physicians) and patient-related factors.

In addition to the finding that a higher proportion of female nurses reduced overall risk of burnout, the researchers found more gender-related differences. While female caregivers were more likely to say that they experienced stress, they were more resistant to burnout than their male colleagues.

"This could be due to a methodological bias," said Dr. Merlani. "Indeed, female caregivers may have found it easier to admit their distress than did males.Men may be less inclined to express their distress."

Interestingly, the researchers also found that stress was not always ass
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Contact: Keely Savoie
ksavoie@thoracic.org
212-315-8620
American Thoracic Society
Source:Eurekalert

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