Association between low empathy and high burnout among primary care physicians and nurses in Lleida, Spain
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Background: Burnout is a growing problem among healthcare professionals and may be mitigated and even prevented by measures designed to promote empathy and resilience. Objectives: We studied the association between burnout and empathy in primary care practitioners in Lleida, Spain and investigated possible differences according to age, sex, profession, and place of practice (urban versus rural). Methods: All general practitioners (GPs) and family nurses in the health district of Lleida (population 366 000) were asked by email to anonymously complete the Maslach Burnout Inventory (MBI) and the Jefferson Scale of Physician Empathy (JSPE) between May and July 2014. Tool consistency was evaluated by Cronbach’s a, the association between empathy and burnout by Spearman’s correlation coefficient, and the association between burnout and empathy and sociodemographic variables by the v2 test. Results: One hundred and thirty-six GPs and 131 nurses (52.7% response rate) from six urban and 16 rural practices participated (78.3% women); 33.3% of respondents had low empathy, while 3.7% had high burnout. The MBI and JSPE were correlated (P<.001) and low burnout was associated with high empathy (P<.05). Age and sex had no influence on burnout or empathy. Conclusion: Although burnout was relatively uncommon in our sample, it was associated with low levels of empathy. This finding and our observation of lower empathy levels in rural settings require further investigation.
Is part ofEuropean Journal of General Practice, 2017, vol. 23, núm. 1, p. 4-10
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