A study of burnout syndrome among anaesthetic care providers in Zambian Hospitals

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Mumbwe, Mbangu Chilufya
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The University of Zambia
Burnout is a psychological syndrome that results from chronic exposure to job stress. Anaesthesia is internationally recognised as one of the most inherently stressful medical disciplines and this is often compounded by unique challenges within the anaesthetic care provider’s working environment. It is important, therefore, to assess the extent to which burnout affects Zambian anaesthetic care providers as patient safety, the physical and mental health of the anaesthetic care provider and the efficient institutional running are all risked in the presence of burnout. The study therefore aimed to determine the prevalence of burnout syndrome among anaesthetic care providers working in Zambian hospitals and to determine which sociodemographic and occupational factors were more predictive of burnout. A cross sectional study among 160 anaesthetic care providers (out of an estimated total of 184) working in various public and private hospitals in Zambia was performed using the Maslach Burnout Inventory-human services survey, a validated tool, which is widely used to assess the presence of burnout among health professionals. Sociodemographic and occupational factors postulated to be associated with burnout were also assessed using a separate structured questionnaire. Burnout syndrome was detected in 51% of the 160 respondents, of these 86% were non-physician anaesthetists working in different hospitals in the country. Logistic regression analysis revealed that “not having the right team to carry out work to an appropriate standard” (odds ratio 2.91 95% C.I. 1.33-6.39, p=0.008), and being non-physician (odds ratio 3.4, 95% C.I. 1.25-12.34, p=0.019) were the strongest predictors of burnout in this population. Burnout levels among Zambian anaesthetic care providers are high. The study findings suggest that increasing the numbers of providers in general may reinforce the hospital anaesthetic team structure thereby reducing isolation. Furthermore, investing in training more physician anaesthetists may be protective. Keywords: anaesthesia, burnout, human resources