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Burnout in a surgical ICU team

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Psychologically stressful situations, a physically demanding workload and a high requirement for technological skills can lead ICU caregivers to burnout. The aim of our study was to evaluate their level of burnout as well as the related factors.


A self-administered anonymous questionnaire.


A 20-bed surgical ICU in a university hospital.

Patients and participants

Nurse assistants, nurses.



Measurements and results

Ninety-seven of 107 questionnaires (91%) were returned. Of the members of ICU nursing team, 28% showed a high level of burnout. They reported a number of concerns, and that they felt discomfort and suffering. There was a discrepancy between the factors felt to be important by them and those statistically related to the burnout. Among the reported concerns, only the lack of patients' co-operation, the organization of the service and the rapid patient turnover were independently associated with a high level of burnout. As many as 49% of the nursing team felt stressed.


Almost a third of the ICU nursing team showed a high level of burnout. The factors felt to be important may not be those related to burnout. Since the well-being of the nursing team is important for the quality of care, corrective actions against the related factors should be sought in order to alleviate the suffering.

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The authors thank all the caregivers of the Surgical Intensive Care Unit for having participated in this study. This work was presented in part at the Annual Congress of the European Society of Intensive Care Medicine (ESICM), September 2004, in Berlin (Germany).

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Correspondence to Melanie Verdon.

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Verdon, M., Merlani, P., Perneger, T. et al. Burnout in a surgical ICU team. Intensive Care Med 34, 152–156 (2008).

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