Skip to main content

Volume 3 Supplement 1


Work-related experiences in intensive and palliative care units and their relation to burnout


Professionals working in intensive and palliative care units and caring for patients at the end of life are at risk of developing burnout. Literature shows that work-related experiences are determinant factors to develop the burnout syndrome.


To identify which work-related experiences are significantly associated with burnout among healthcare professionals who provide end-of-life care in intensive and palliative care units in Portugal.


Multicenter quantitative, comparative study. A survey study was conducted using: The Maslach Burnout Inventory and a questionnaire including a set of work-related experiences. 355 professionals from intensive and palliative care units were included in this study. Univariate and multivariate logistic regression analyses were performed; OR sidelong with 95% of CI were calculated.


Out of the 355 professionals included in this study, 27% were in burnout (this defined as being in burnout and in high risk of developing this syndrome). Univariate regression analyses showed that higher burnout levels were significantly associated with the following work-related experiences: night shifts, conflicts, decisions to withhold treatment, decisions to withdraw treatment and implementing terminal sedation. When controlling for socio-demographic and educational characteristics of the participant professionals, and for the setting (intensive vs. palliative care units), the only variable that remained significantly associated to higher burnout levels was ´conflicts´.


Work-related experiences increase the risk of developing burnout among professionals who provide end-of-life care in intensive and palliative care units. Experiencing conflicts in the workplace was the most significant variable associated to higher burnout levels. These findings suggest that team-dynamics and conflict-management are paramount in the implementation of strategies and programs aiming at preventing or minimizing burnout.


  1. Embriaco N, Azoulay E, Barrau K, Kentish N, Pochard F, Loundou A, Papazian L: “High level of burnout in intensivists”. Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 2007, 175: 686-692. 10.1164/rccm.200608-1184OC.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  2. Maslach C, Schaufeli WB, Leiter MP: “Job burnout”. Annu Rev Psychol. 2001, 52: 397-422. 10.1146/annurev.psych.52.1.397.

    Article  PubMed  CAS  Google Scholar 

  3. Ponet M, Toullic P, Papazian L, Kentish-Barnes N, Timsit JF, Pochard F, Chevret S, Schlemmer B, Azoulay E: “Burnout syndrome in critical care nursing staff”. Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 2007, 175: 698-704. 10.1164/rccm.200606-806OC.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  4. Teixeira C, Ribeiro O, Fonseca AM, Carvalho AS: Ethical decision making in intensive care units: a burnout risk factor? Results from a multicenter study conducted with physicians and nurses. Journal of Medical Ethics.

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Rights and permissions

Open Access This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits use, duplication, adaptation, distribution, and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Check for updates. Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Teixeira, C., Pereira, S., Hernández-Marrero, P. et al. Work-related experiences in intensive and palliative care units and their relation to burnout. ICMx 3 (Suppl 1), A649 (2015).

Download citation

  • Published:

  • DOI: