Burnout levels among dietitians working in the New South Wales public hospital system: a cross-sectional statewide survey
Aim: The concept of burnout has been examined in the literature for over 35 years, and has been historically associated with those professions that deal with particularly complex cases. Although dietitians have received less attention, they face similar pressures and must cope with an environment that may not support dietetics processes. The aim of the present study was to examine the burnout level among public hospital dietitians in New South Wales (NSW) and to determine the variables associated with burnout and to compare these findings to other studies among health-care professionals.
Methods: The Maslach Burnout Inventory-Human Services Survey and a demographic questionnaire were distributed to hospital dietitians employed within the NSW public hospital system during a six-week period from April to May 2011.
Results: The dietitians surveyed had low to moderate burnout levels, r = 0.201 (P = 0.003). The three domains of the burnout measure, emotional exhaustion, depersonalisation and personal accomplishment, were investigated separately. The level/grading of the dietitian was associated with higher levels of emotional exhaustion with r = 0.192 (P = 0.004). Depersonalisation was negatively associated with number of children, r = −0.147 (P = 0.02), and positively associated with the number of hours worked, r = 0.154 (P = 0.021). Personal achievement was positively associated with number of children, r = 0.304 (P = 0.006), and negatively associated with the hours of work, r = −0.198 (P = 0.021).
Conclusions: The main findings were the following. The career stage, the size of the hospital and hours of work were the variables significantly associated with the levels of burnout experienced by NSW public hospital dietitians. It also appeared that those dietitians with children and who work part-time experienced far less emotional exhaustion and depersonalisation than their full-time counterparts and, interestingly, part-time workers had higher levels of personal accomplishment.