Background: Chronic stress is a common condition among health-care operators, anesthetists in particular. It is known to cause cognitive weakening and pathological outcomes, as the Burnout syndrome. Nevertheless, the impact of clinicians′ health on their performance has received limited attention thus far. Our pilot study, aims at evaluating the influence of burnout on the cognitive performance in a population of anesthesia practitioners. Methods: In 18 practitioners we assessed attention by means of reaction times (RTs), pre- and post-shift, with a five-subtest computerized neuropsychological battery. RTs were controlled for the situational anxiety with the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory X1. The burnout level was evaluated with the Maslach Burnout Inventory (MBI). The three MBI sub-scores (emotional exhaustion, depersonalization and professional achievement) were combined to obtain two groups according to the burnout score (high and low). Results: Anesthetists showed a significantly worse performance in the fifth test post-shift (P=0.041) than pre-shift. The high-score burnout group reacted slower than the low-score burnout group in three of the five cognitive subtests, without reaching a statistical significance. Nevertheless, our effect size, which is independent from the sample size, is very large (d=1.165). Conclusion: We found that in a population of health-care operators, burnout may affect the cognitive and potentially, the working performance. Qualitative and quantitative measurements should be integrated to ensure a better management of burnout and its consequences in workplaces.
- medical error
- psychological factors
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine