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versión On-line ISSN 1668-7027


POPP, Maricel Soledad. Preliminary research on burnout syndrome and coping strategies in intensive care unit (ICU) nurses. Interdisciplinaria [online]. 2008, vol.25, n.1, pp.5-27. ISSN 1668-7027.

Nursing is a field with many satisfactions, but at the same time, the occupational situation in which nurses find themselves increases stress levels compared to other professions. Caregivers commonly deal with life and death situations. The services that the nurses lend are seen aggravated in the intensive care units (ICU), where they are more exposed to painful situations such as death, since they have continuous contact with patients in a critical or terminal state. Due to the demands of working with ICU patients, nurses that work there become a high risk group for developing burnout syndrome. The fundamental feature of this syndrome is emotional depletion, feeling drained by one's contact with other people; furthermore, they express feelings of depersonalization (negative feelings and cynical attitudes toward the recipient of one's service and care) and a lack of personal accomplishment at work (a tendency to negatively evaluate one's own work), as a result of both the stress generated in the occupational environment and of the interpersonal contact that they frequently maintain. Since nursing has been considered a highly stressful profession and nurses are inclined to suffer burnout, the objectives of this research were: firstly, to measure burnout levels in ICU nurses and, secondly, to determine if the nurses' coping strategies defers burnout levels in order to establish if nurses with higher levels of burnout have a less functional coping profile. The instruments we used were the Maslach Burnout Inventory (Maslach, & Jackson, 1997) and the Ways of Coping Questionnaire (Lazarus, & Folkman, 1986), using for its evaluation the taxonomy proposal by Moos and Billings (1982). We worked with a sample of 53 female nurses selected through a non probabilistic intentional method, with ages ranging from 24 to 54 years, resulting in an age average of 36 years (SD = 8.32); the sample was taken from both public as well as private health institutions in the province of Entre Ríos (República Argentina). The participants worked between 32 to 80 hours per week, averaging a 46 hour weekly schedule (SD = 9.01), although most nurses worked a 40 hours weekly schedule. Through a multivariate analysis we found meaningful principal effects concerning two dimensions: depersonalization (F of Hotelling (18, 44) = 3,145; p = .001) and low personal accomplishment (F of Hotelling (18, 44) = 2,137; p = .021). The nurses that presented lower burnout levels used coping strategies such as: logical analysis of the problematic situation, its causes, consequences and, possible solutions; actions taken that solve the problem; and the development of rewards or alternative remunerations in other type of sources of satisfaction, such as social relationships, activities and personal development. The nurses of ICU in the province of Entre Ríos (Argentina) present low levels of emotional exhaustion, high levels of depersonalization and moderate levels of personal accomplishment.

Palabras clave : Burnout syndrome; Coping strategies; Nurses; Intensive care units.

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