Psycho-cognitive predictors of burnout in healthcare professionals working in emergency departments

Marianna Masiero, Ilaria Cutica, Selena Russo, Ketti Mazzocco, Gabriella Pravettoni

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Background: Healthcare professionals working in emergency departments commonly experience high work pressure and stress due to witnessing human suffering and the unpredictable nature of the work. Several studies have identified variables that affect burnout syndrome, but poor data are available about the predictors of the different dimensions of burnout (depersonalisation, emotional exhaustion, professional inefficacy and disillusionment). Some research has suggested that alexithymia, coping style and decision-making style may predict burnout. Design: We conducted a noninterventional study to investigate whether and how alexithymia, coping style and decision-making style are associated with the different dimensions of burnout. Methods: We recruited a convenience sample of 93 healthcare professionals working in an Italian emergency departments. Participants completed a questionnaire assessing their level of burnout (the Link Burnout Questionnaire), and possible burnout predictors: decision-making style, alexithymia and the coping style. Four bivariate linear regressions were performed to define the predictors that characterised the dimensions of burnout. Results: We found that an avoidant decision-making style and a difficulty to identify and describe feelings (a difficulty close to alexithymia even though not as severe) are strong predictors of some burnout dimensions. Individuals who experience relational depersonalisation are more likely to turn to religion as a way to cope. Conclusions: Our research shows that, to some extent, difficulties in emotion regulation and the attitude to avoid or postpone decisions characterised burnout. Relevance to clinical practice: These results might be used to develop tailored psycho-educational interventions. This might help healthcare professionals to develop personal skills to cope with the critical conditions that characterise their work and to enable them to recognise potential risk factors that favour burnout. This has pivotal implications for the maintenance of the patient–healthcare professional relationship and in reducing clinical errors.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2691-2698
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Clinical Nursing
Issue number13-14
Publication statusPublished - Jul 1 2018



  • alexithymia
  • burnout
  • cognitive bias
  • coping strategy
  • decision-making
  • nursing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nursing(all)

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