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SENSE OF MEANING AS A PREDICTOR OF BURNOUT IN EMERGENCY PHYSICIANS IN NIGERIA: A NATIONAL SURVEY
Objective Burnout is common in physicians and particularly acute in emergency physicians. Physician burnout may adversely affect physicians’ lives and the quality of care they provide, but much remains unknown about its main contributing factors. The present study evaluated burnout rates and contributing factors in emergency physicians in Nigeria, specifically focusing on the role of a sense of meaning, which has received little attention in the literature concerning burnout in emergency physicians.
Methods A multicenter study, involving a convenience sample of physicians working full-time in the emergency departments of 16 general hospitals in Nigeria, was conducted. Questionnaires were used to assess burnout, demographic characteristics, professional stress, emotional distress, satisfaction, and quality of professional life, and open-ended questions were used to evaluate subjective perception of job satisfaction.
Results Seventy physicians completed the questionnaires; 71.4% reported significant burnout levels in at least one of the burnout measures, while 82% also reported medium or high levels of competency. Burnout levels were associated with work-life balance, work satisfaction, social support, depressive symptoms, stress, and preoccupying thoughts. Regression analysis yielded two significant factors associated with burnout: worry and a sense of existential meaning derived from work. In addition, 61%, 51%, and 17% of participants exhibited high emotional exhaustion, high depersonalization, and a low sense of personal accomplishment, respectively.
Conclusion These results indicate a high burnout rate in emergency physicians in Nigeria and highlight relevant positive and negative factors including the importance of addressing existential meaning in designing specific intervention programs to counter burnout.
Keywords Burnout, professional; Emergency medicine; Existential meaning