, Volume 38, Issue 1, pp 55-61
Date: 30 Nov 2011

Suffering among carers working in critical care can be reduced by an intensive communication strategy on end-of-life practices

Rent the article at a discount

Rent now

* Final gross prices may vary according to local VAT.

Get Access

Abstract

Purpose

Burnout syndrome (BOS) has frequently been reported in healthcare workers, and precipitating factors include communication problems in the workplace and stress related to end-of-life situations. We evaluated the effect of an intensive communication strategy on BOS among caregivers working in intensive care (ICU).

Methods

Longitudinal, monocentric, before-and-after, interventional study. BOS was evaluated using the Maslach Burnout Inventory (MBI) and depression using the Centre for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale (CES-D) in 2007 (period 1) and 2009 (period 2). Between periods, an intensive communication strategy on end-of-life practices was implemented, based on improved organisation, better communication, and regular staff meetings.

Results

Among 62 caregivers in the ICU, 53 (85%) responded to both questionnaires in period 1 and 49 (79%) in period 2. We observed a significant difference between periods in all three components of the MBI (emotional exhaustion, p = 0.04; depersonalization p = 0.04; personal accomplishment, p = 0.01). MBI classified burnout as severe in 15 (28%) caregivers in period 1 versus 7 (14%) in period 2, p < 0.01, corresponding to a 50% risk reduction. Symptoms of depression as evaluated by the CES-D were present in 9 (17%) caregivers in period 1 versus 3 (6%) in period 2, p < 0.05, corresponding to a risk reduction of almost 60%.

Conclusion

The implementation of an active, intensive communication strategy regarding end-of-life care in the ICU was associated with a significant reduction in the rate of burnout syndrome and depression in a stable population of caregiving staff.