Study Finds Burnout is Taking its Toll on Nurses in Cardiology Units


A survey assessing burnout among nurses in Italy suggests more than one-third reported a high level of emotional exhaustion.

Annamaria Bagnasco, PhD

Annamaria Bagnasco, PhD

While previous studies have examined trends and impact of burnout among cardiologists, new research is shedding light on the issue among nurses in cardiology.

Presented as part of European Society of Cardiology (ESC) Congress 2020, the analysis of nearly 100 nurses caring for children with cardiovascular conditions found more than half were emotionally exhausted but also found work environment played an integral role in responses.

“The most important consequence was that 30% of the nurses we interviewed wanted to either go and work in another hospital or even change their career,” said Annamaria Bagnasco of the University of Genoa, Italy, in a statement from the ESC.

With burnout among physicians receiving renewed focus in the wake of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), results of the latest study shed light on the overarching effects and how it has impacted nurses and other care providers. Using data from the RN4CAST@ITPed study, which included more than 2500 nurses in children’s hospital across Italy, investigators obtained information related to web survey responses from more than 2200 respondents. From this group of more than 2000 respondents, investigators identified 85 working in cardiology wards and intensive care units.

The 85 pediatric nurses included in the study represented 7 units within 5 hospitals in Italy. These 7 units were mixed cardiology-cardiac surgery, cardiology, arrhythmology, cardiac surgery, and a cardiology intensive care unit. The mean age of this population was 40±10.5 years, the mean years worked as a nurse was 15±10.7 years, and 91% were females.

Within the surveys completed by these nurses were measurements of workload, skill, mix, work environment, and emotional exhaustion. Specifically, workload referenced nurse-patient ratio, skill mix included education level and number of nursing assistants providing support during each shift, work environment as measured with the Practice Environment Scale of the Nursing Work Index (PES-NWI), and, lastly, emotional exhaustion was measured using the Maslach Burnout Inventory.

Investigators noted the use of descriptive statistical analyses to account for variables in the study, a binomial logistic regression model was created the assess the relationships between the dependent variable “high Emotional Exhaustion” and the independent variables “PESI-NWI composite score,” adjusted work workload and skill mix.

Upon analysis, 35.3% of patients reported having a high level of emotional exhaustion, the women workload score was 1.48±.53, and the mean PES-NWI opposite score was 2.66±.5. Results of the analysis indicated those with the same skill mix and workload had 81% (OR, 0.192; 95% CI, 0.062-0.591) decrease in risk of developing a high level of emotional exhaustion if nurses reported an improved workplace environment.

“Our study shows that nurses value good leadership, being involved in decision-making, having chances to develop their career, and team working,” said Bagnasco. “The lack of these conditions is connected to burnout, which we know from prior research could compromise patient safety.”

This study, “Relationship between burnout and nursing practice environment in pediatric cardiology: a cross-sectional study,” was presented as part of ESC Congress 2020.

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