Intensive Care Medicine

, Volume 38, Issue 1, pp 55–61

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

  • J. P. Quenot
  • J. P. Rigaud
  • S. Prin
  • S. Barbar
  • A. Pavon
  • M. Hamet
  • N. Jacquiot
  • B. Blettery
  • C. Hervé
  • P. E. Charles
  • G. Moutel



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).


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.


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%.


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.


Ethics Critical care organisation Communication 


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Copyright information

© Copyright jointly held by Springer and ESICM 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. P. Quenot
    • 1
  • J. P. Rigaud
    • 2
  • S. Prin
    • 1
  • S. Barbar
    • 1
  • A. Pavon
    • 1
  • M. Hamet
    • 1
  • N. Jacquiot
    • 1
  • B. Blettery
    • 1
  • C. Hervé
    • 3
  • P. E. Charles
    • 1
  • G. Moutel
    • 3
  1. 1.Service de Réanimation MédicaleCHU DijonDijonFrance
  2. 2.Service de Réanimation PolyvalenteCHU DieppeDieppeFrance
  3. 3.Laboratoire d’éthique médicaleUniversité René Descartes-Paris VParisFrance

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