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Burnout and Resilience Among Neurosciences Critical Care Unit Staff

An Invited Editorial Commentary to this article was published on 13 August 2019



Preventing burnout and promoting resiliency are important for health professionals’ well-being and quality of patient care, as individuals with high levels of burnout are more likely to self-report suboptimal patient interactions. The purpose of this study was to characterize resiliency and burnout among health care professionals in the neurosciences critical care unit (NCCU) at a tertiary care center.


All NCCU clinical staff were invited to participate in a Qualtrics® electronic survey between November 2016 and August 2017. The survey assessed burnout using the abbreviated Maslach Burnout Inventory (aMBI) and resiliency using the ten-question Connor–Davidson Resilience Scale (CD-RISC 10). Higher scores on each aMBI subsection (range 0–18) indicate higher levels of each characteristic; larger resiliency scores (range 0–40) indicate higher resiliency. Categorical variables were compared using the Chi-square test and continuous variables using the Mann–Whitney U test or independent samples t test.


A total of 65 participants (65/70, 93%) were included in the final analysis. Of respondents, 49 (75%) were nurses, 49 (75%) were female, and mean age was 34 years. Median emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, and personal accomplishment scores were as follows: 8 (IQR 6–11), 3 (IQR 0–6), and 15 (IQR 13–16). High emotional exhaustion scores and high depersonalization scores were reported in 45% (n = 29) and 28% (n = 18) of participants, respectively. Longer time working in the NCCU (1–5 years vs. less than 1 year) was independently associated with higher emotional exhaustion scores (p = 0.012). When compared to agnostic/atheist backgrounds, Catholicism was independently associated with higher personal accomplishment scores (p = 0.026). The median resiliency score was 31 (IQR 28–36). Older age was independently associated with higher resiliency scores (p = 0.044).


This study is the first to characterize levels of burnout and resiliency among NCCU providers. A significant minority of participants reported high levels of emotional exhaustion and depersonalization, with those working longer in the NCCU more likely to experience emotional exhaustion. Efforts to improve the current work environments to optimally support the emotional needs of staff are needed to allow care providers to thrive and to promote longevity among NCCU providers.

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We would like to thank the following members of the Neurocritical Care and Chaplaincy Study Group who aided in the design and implementation of this project: Brittany M. Powell, MDiv; Gail Biba, MSN, RN; Deena Conti, MS, RN-BC; Thomas Y. Crowe, MDiv, BCC; Heather Thomas, MBA; J. Ricardo Carhuapoma, MD; John C. Probasco, MD; and Paula Teague, DMin, MBA, BCC.


Partial research funding was provided through an American Academy of Neurology grant.

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Authors and Affiliations




TEP, NCCSG, and DS designed research; TEP performed research; TEP analyzed data; and TEP, NCCSG, and DS wrote the paper.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Taylor E. Purvis.

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Conflict of interest

The authors TEP, NCCSG, and DS declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Human and Animal Rights

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki Declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards. This article does not contain any studies with animals performed by any of the authors.

Ethical Approval/Informed Consent

Full ethical approval was not obtained for this study. Rather, the IRB granted an exemption for this study because no identifying information was collected about participants, and the survey administered was deemed to be of minimal risk to participants. Informed consent was not required by the IRB given the exempt nature of this study.

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Purvis, T.E., Neurocritical Care and Chaplaincy Study Group. & Saylor, D. Burnout and Resilience Among Neurosciences Critical Care Unit Staff. Neurocrit Care 31, 406–410 (2019).

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  • Chaplain
  • Critical care
  • Neurological critical care
  • Staff
  • Nurses
  • Physician
  • Burnout
  • Resilience