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World Psychiatry. 2016 Jun;15(2):103-11. doi: 10.1002/wps.20311.

Understanding the burnout experience: recent research and its implications for psychiatry.

Author information

1
Psychology Department, University of California at Berkeley, Berkeley, CA, 94720, USA.
2
Centre for Organizational Research & Development, Acadia University, Wolfville, NS, B4P 2R6, Canada.

Abstract

The experience of burnout has been the focus of much research during the past few decades. Measures have been developed, as have various theoretical models, and research studies from many countries have contributed to a better understanding of the causes and consequences of this occupationally-specific dysphoria. The majority of this work has focused on human service occupations, and particularly health care. Research on the burnout experience for psychiatrists mirrors much of the broader literature, in terms of both sources and outcomes of burnout. But it has also identified some of the unique stressors that mental health professionals face when they are dealing with especially difficult or violent clients. Current issues of particular relevance for psychiatry include the links between burnout and mental illness, the attempts to redefine burnout as simply exhaustion, and the relative dearth of evaluative research on potential interventions to treat and/or prevent burnout. Given that the treatment goal for burnout is usually to enable people to return to their job, and to be successful in their work, psychiatry could make an important contribution by identifying the treatment strategies that would be most effective in achieving that goal.

KEYWORDS:

Burnout; burnout interventions; burnout measures; cynicism; depression; exhaustion; health care; psychiatric staff; work engagement

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