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Burnout in psychosocial oncology clinicians: A systematic review

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  08 September 2020

Sue E. Morris*
Affiliation:
Department of Psychosocial Oncology and Palliative Care, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, MA Department of Psychiatry, Boston Children's Hospital and Brigham and Women's Hospital, and Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA
Sarah J. Tarquini
Affiliation:
Department of Psychosocial Oncology and Palliative Care, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, MA Department of Psychiatry, Boston Children's Hospital, and Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA
Miryam Yusufov
Affiliation:
Department of Psychosocial Oncology and Palliative Care, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, MA Department of Psychiatry, Brigham and Women's Hospital, and Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA
Esmeralda Adolf
Affiliation:
Department of Psychosocial Oncology and Palliative Care, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, MA
Hermioni L. Amonoo
Affiliation:
Department of Psychosocial Oncology and Palliative Care, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, MA Department of Psychiatry, Brigham and Women's Hospital, and Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA
Paul A. Bain
Affiliation:
Countway Library of Medicine, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA
Nancy A. Borstelmann
Affiliation:
Department of Psychosocial Oncology and Palliative Care, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, MA
Ilana M. Braun
Affiliation:
Department of Psychosocial Oncology and Palliative Care, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, MA Department of Psychiatry, Brigham and Women's Hospital, and Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA
Tricia Hughes
Affiliation:
Department of Psychosocial Oncology and Palliative Care, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, MA
Anna C. Muriel
Affiliation:
Department of Psychosocial Oncology and Palliative Care, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, MA Department of Psychiatry, Boston Children's Hospital, and Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA
Lisa M. Northman
Affiliation:
Department of Psychosocial Oncology and Palliative Care, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, MA Department of Psychiatry, Boston Children's Hospital, and Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA
John R. Peteet
Affiliation:
Department of Psychosocial Oncology and Palliative Care, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, MA Department of Psychiatry, Brigham and Women's Hospital, and Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA
Hanneke Poort
Affiliation:
Department of Psychosocial Oncology and Palliative Care, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, MA Department of Psychiatry, Brigham and Women's Hospital, and Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA
Angelee Russ-Carbin
Affiliation:
Department of Psychosocial Oncology and Palliative Care, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, MA
William F. Pirl
Affiliation:
Department of Psychosocial Oncology and Palliative Care, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, MA Department of Psychiatry, Brigham and Women's Hospital, and Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA
*
Author for correspondence: Sue E. Morris, Department of Psychosocial Oncology and Palliative Care, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, 450 Brookline Avenue, JF8, Boston, MA 02215, USA. E-mail: sue_morris@dfci.harvard.edu

Abstract

Objective

Few studies have examined burnout in psychosocial oncology clinicians. The aim of this systematic review was to summarize what is known about the prevalence and severity of burnout in psychosocial clinicians who work in oncology settings and the factors that are believed to contribute or protect against it.

Method

Articles on burnout (including compassion fatigue and secondary trauma) in psychosocial oncology clinicians were identified by searching PubMed/MEDLINE, EMBASE, PsycINFO, the Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature, and the Web of Science Core Collection.

Results

Thirty-eight articles were reviewed at the full-text level, and of those, nine met study inclusion criteria. All were published between 2004 and 2018 and included data from 678 psychosocial clinicians. Quality assessment revealed relatively low risk of bias and high methodological quality. Study composition and sample size varied greatly, and the majority of clinicians were aged between 40 and 59 years. Across studies, 10 different measures were used to assess burnout, secondary traumatic stress, and compassion fatigue, in addition to factors that might impact burnout, including work engagement, meaning, and moral distress. When compared with other medical professionals, psychosocial oncology clinicians endorsed lower levels of burnout.

Significance of results

This systematic review suggests that psychosocial clinicians are not at increased risk of burnout compared with other health care professionals working in oncology or in mental health. Although the data are quite limited, several factors appear to be associated with less burnout in psychosocial clinicians, including exposure to patient recovery, discussing traumas, less moral distress, and finding meaning in their work. More research using standardized measures of burnout with larger samples of clinicians is needed to examine both prevalence rates and how the experience of burnout changes over time. By virtue of their training, psychosocial clinicians are well placed to support each other and their nursing and medical colleagues.

Type
Review Article
Copyright
Copyright © The Author(s), 2020. Published by Cambridge University Press

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