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Female nurses reduce burnout in ICU teams

  • 9 Comments

Critical care teams are less likely to burn out if they contain a high proportion of female nurses, according to researchers.

They found being male, being a healthcare assistant, having no children and being aged under 40 were all risk factors for burnout among members of ICU teams. The proportion of female nurses also impacted on the prevalence of burnout among the whole intensive care unit team.

The findings may “open a new frontier” concerning burnout in ICU which reveals the “importance of team composition”, they said.

The researchers, from the University of Geneva in Switzerland, assessed more than 3,000 ICU staff – including doctors, nurses and HCAs – from 74 units on their personal characteristics, stress levels and risk of burnout. They also studied the demographic make-up of teams.

Lead author Paolo Merlani told Nursing Times that, based on the findings, “male nurses were 50% more at risk to be in burnout compared to female nurses”.

He added that a “team with 55% of female nurses is twice as likely to experience burnout than a team with 80% of female nurses”.

Dr Merlani the findings were especially important due to shortages in critical care nurses but he acknowledged they needed to be confirmed by further research.

He said: “In the meanwhile, ICU heads should ascertain that personnel at higher risk would be especially taken care of, and that resources should be provided to afford psychological support and promote a team culture.”

Dr Merlani suggested that men were less likely to “admit their distress” than women, which formed part of a “vicious cycle” leading to burnout.

He added: “Whether the results can be exported to other medical settings where team-working is pivotal remains for the moment an interesting question to be investigated.”

The study was published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

  • 9 Comments

Readers' comments (9)

  • "Critical care teams are less likely to burn out if they contain a high proportion of female nurses"

    But they are also more likely to have vastly increased incidences of bitchiness, backstabbing and infighting. Perhaps this is the cause of men's burnout?

    Pfft!

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  • (That was sarcasm by the way. Well, a little!)

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  • would have thought children could cause more stress. Maybe "family" friendlier legislation / shifts / hours could have affected this. Also possibly less likely to do extra hours having to get back to look after domestic life.
    Under 40 + hca, sounds like some people could be working harder / longer or less flexible shifts.
    Higher numbers of staff would reduce burnout and possibly virtual kids ;)

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  • What was the point of this research?

    It cant inform a recruitment policy!

    Wot a waste of money and time

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  • Being childless, working extra hours and days to cover for childminding problems and sickness of a short -term nature, and having the worst shifts over Christmas for the last 38 years, it is no surprise. I guess male staff suffer the same sort of problems. My family life has suffered through this, although I have never worked in ICU, but suspect it relates to all Wards/Depts. Family-friendly only seems to relate to children, not the rest of the family, like husband/wife/partner, siblings and ageing parent(s). Being under 40, I guess is because you have more energy and do more, and as for HCAs (I have empathy), well I have a belief, but perhaps best left without a comment.

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  • would have thought children could cause more stress. Maybe "family" friendlier legislation / shifts / hours could have affected this. Also possibly less likely to do extra hours having to get back to look after domestic life.
    Under 40 + hca, sounds like some people could be working harder / longer or less flexible shifts.
    Higher numbers of staff would reduce burnout and possibly virtual kids ;)

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  • Working part time have anything to do with the result? Some of the happiest staff at out place work 2 shifts a week or less, all of them women - go figure.

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  • So why in 15 years of critical care in 5 different countries do i hear the same phrase," i'm glad there are male staff on", or " i prefer working with men". The authors must have a sample population in the gulag archipelago !!!!!!!!!!!

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  • would have thought children could cause more stress. Maybe "family" friendlier legislation / shifts / hours could have affected this. Also possibly less likely to do extra hours having to get back to look after domestic life.
    Under 40 + hca, sounds like some people could be working harder / longer or less flexible shifts.
    Higher numbers of staff would reduce burnout and possibly virtual kids ;)

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

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