Critical care staff wellbeing: A new paradigm for understanding burnout

Published:November 24, 2022DOI:



      The wellbeing of paediatric intensive care unit (PICU) staff members influences their engagement with work and the quality of care they provide to patients. Baseline burnout measures in research provide inconclusive evidence of the determinants of burnout and how to target interventions to promote staff wellbeing.


      The objectives of this study were to determine the prevalence of burnout using the Maslach Burnout Inventory (MBI) burnout-engagement workplace profiles in a sample of Australian PICU staff and investigate associations between demographic characteristics, meaningful work, satisfaction with life, and psychological distress on burnout.


      A cross-sectional survey was administered to a multidisciplinary sample of PICU staff (target n = 464) from three tertiary paediatric hospitals in Australia. The survey tool was comprised of the MBI, Work and Meaning Inventory, Satisfaction with Life Scale, Kessler Psychological Distress Scale, and demographic questions. Hierarchical multiple regressions examined the relationships between burnout and these variables of interest.


      A sample of 258 participants (56%) completed the survey. For most respondents, burnout was scored as a low to moderate risk, with over half the participants scoring low risk for emotional exhaustion (EE) (56%) and depersonalisation (DP) (54%). Personal accomplishment (PA) was more evenly distributed (range of burnout risk: low, 32%; moderate, 32%; high, 36%). MBI scores were classified using the burnout-engaged workplace profile system, identifying low levels of burnout (8% burnout, 3% disengaged, 21% overextended, 29% ineffective, and 39% engaged). Psychological distress significantly increased burnout risk across all three dimensions EE (β = 0.253, p < 0.001), DP  = 0.145, p < 0.05), and PA (β = −0.13, p < 0.05), and being aged between 41 and 55 years was protective of depersonalisation (β = −0.214, p < 0.05).


      Utilising MBI workplace profiles, this study has built upon the demand for a more comprehensive assessment of burnout. Research that helps improve our understanding of contributory factors to burnout and wellbeing will inform the development of effective interventions that promote wellbeing of staff.


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