The burnout syndrome among nurses in an urban acute care hospital

Barbara Ann Candley, The University of Texas School of Public Health


Three hundred fifty-four registered nurses from an urban acute care hospital were examined through self-report questionnaires. Nurses from trauma care, critical care and non-critical care nursing specialties participated in the study. The study focuses were (1) whether sociodemographic characteristics were significantly related to burnout; (2) what was the prevalence estimate of burnout among the population; (3) whether burnout levels differed depending upon nursing specialties and; (4) whether burnout as related to nursing stress, work environment, and work relations was mediated by sociodemographic characteristics. Race, age, marital status, education, seniority, rank, nursing education, and birthplace were significantly related to one or more aspects of burnout in the total population. With emotional exhaustion alone the prevalence of burnout was 62%. Using emotional exhaustion and depersonalization combined with reduced sense of personal accomplishment as a measure of burnout, thirty-four percent of the nurses were either in the pre-burnout phase or burned out. The relative importance of sociodemographic characteristics indicated that experience and race were highly significant risk factors. Burnout levels differed significantly depending upon nursing specialty. Specifically, levels of emotional exhaustion and depersonalization differed significantly between trauma care and critical care, and trauma care and non-critical care. Personal accomplishment did not differ depending upon nursing specialty. Critical care nurses did not differ significantly from non-critical care nurses on aspect of burnout. Race, marital status, education, seniority and rank were significant mediators of emotional exhaustion and depersonalization. The study offers possible explanations for the mediating effect of sociodemographic characteristics on nursing stress, work environment, work relations, emotional exhaustion and depersonalization.

Subject Area

Nursing|Health care|Occupational psychology

Recommended Citation

Candley, Barbara Ann, "The burnout syndrome among nurses in an urban acute care hospital" (1991). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI9130691.