Objectives: The hypothesis that burnout is predictive of performance deficits on a number of neuropsychological tests was examined among a group of psychiatric nurses. A possible relationship between burnout and state and trait anxiety levels was also investigated.
Methods: A sample of psychiatric nurses (n=45) completed the Maslach Burnout Inventory (MBI) and the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI). Their performance on a number of neurocognitive tests from the Cambridge Neuropsychological Test Automated Battery (CANTAB) was examined. The neurocognitive tests measured visual memory, verbal memory and attention.
Results: Multiple regression analyses were conducted between the burnout subscales and the results of the neuropsychological tests, and also between the burnout subscales and both state and trait anxiety levels. No overall significant relationship was found between neurocognitive performance and burnout. However, trait anxiety was significantly predictive of each of the burnout subscales of emotional exhaustion, depersonalisation and also of decreased personal accomplishment.
Conclusions: The levels of burnout were in the moderate range for all three subscales and so the population was suffering from burnout. The fact that the trait anxiety variable was predictive of all three of the burnout subscales suggests that predisposition towards anxiety may be a vulnerability factor among people who suffer from burnout.