Maura Galletta, from the Department of Public Health, Clinical and Molecular Medicine, University of Cagliari in Italy, and colleagues studied job-related burnout levels, and investigated how emotional exhaustion and cynicism (core components of burnout) were associated with some psychosocial factors (e.g. perceived team communication and team efficacy) and HAIs. 130 professionals working in 5 critical care units completed a questionnaire. Infections data was collected for 6 months.
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The researchers had three hypotheses:
Hypothesis 1. Emotional exhaustion is positively related to cynicism.
Hypothesis 2. Quality of team communication mediates the relationship between cynicism and team efficacy.
Hypothesis 3. Team efficacy is negatively related topatient infections.
ResultsNurses made up 3/4 of the sample, and physicians the rest. The analysis of the questionnaire data showed that emotional exhaustion was related to cynicism due to high work demands: the more workers are exposed to emotional depletion, the more they will lose enthusiasm and emotional involvement in their job. The results showed that team communication was positively related to team efficacy and that cynicism affected team communication. The researchers explain that “this means that a work situation that contributes to a chronic depersonalisation,namely the distance from one’s work, decreases a team’s ability to collaborate, share critical information and pre-vent errors, thus affecting the sense of team effectiveness.” Lastly, perceived team efficacy was found to be directly and negatively related to patient infection acquired during their hospital stay. The researchers write that this result denotes that “when a team works in a synergic and collaborative way, in which communication among staff members is effective, this will result in an increased quality of patient care, thus reducing health care associated-infections.”
The researchers conclude that burnout does have an indirect effect on healthcare-related infections as a result of the quality of teamwork. “Reducing burnout can be a good strategy to decrease infections, thus increasing workers’ well-being while improving patient care”, they write.