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Can a single question effectively screen for burnout in Australian cancer care workers?

Author(s): Hansen Vibeke | Girgis Afaf

Journal: BMC Health Services Research
ISSN 1472-6963

Volume: 10;
Issue: 1;
Start page: 341;
Date: 2010;
Original page

Abstract Background Burnout has important clinical and professional implications among health care workers, with high levels of burnout documented in oncology staff. The aim of this study was to ascertain how well a brief single-item measure could be used to screen for burnout in the Australian oncology workforce. Methods During 2007, 1322 members of the Clinical Oncological Society of Australia were invited to participate in a cross-sectional nationwide survey; 740 (56%) of eligible members consented and completed the survey. Data from the 638 consenting members who reported that their work involved direct patient contact were included in the secondary analyses reported in this paper. Burnout was assessed using the MBI Human Services Survey Emotional Exhaustion sub-scale and a single-item self-defined burnout scale. Results Emotional exhaustion was "high" in 33% of the sample when assessed by the psychometrically validated MBI. The single-item burnout measure identified 28% of the sample who classified themselves as "definitely burning out", "having persistent symptoms of burnout", or "completely burned out". MBI Emotional Exhaustion was significantly correlated with the single-item burnout measure (r = 0.68, p < 0.0001) and an ANOVA yielded an R2 of 0.5 (p < 0.0001). Conclusions The moderate to high correlation between the single-item self-defined burnout measure and the emotional exhaustion component of burnout suggest that this single item can effectively screen for burnout in health care settings which are time-poor for assessing burnout more comprehensively.
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