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Burnout may help determine sleep quality, job performance among nurses: study

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L’Aquila, Italy — A recently released study has linked sleep disorders and burnout to certain aspects of shift work among nurses.

Researchers from the University of L’Aquila reviewed questionnaires from 315 nurses who worked rotating 24-hour shifts. The nurses included in the study group all worked at least six night shifts per month. More than 60 percent of the nurses worked long-cycle shift patterns – two mornings, two afternoons and two night shifts followed by three days of rest. The others were on a short-cycle shift pattern – one morning, one afternoon and one night shift, followed by two days of rest.

Italian versions of the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index and the Copenhagen Burnout Inventory were used to detect sleep disorders and burnout, respectively, among the nurses. The Italian version of the Job Performance Scale (task performance and contextual performance) was used to judge job performance.

Overall, about 52 percent of nurses showed lower quality sleep, while 31 percent displayed characteristics of burnout. Other findings:

  • Long-cycle pattern nurses were more likely to show signs of burnout than short-cycle nurses, 36 percent to 25 percent.
  • Burnout was more likely in nurses who worked in psychiatric units (50 percent) compared with surgical (37 percent), critical care (30 percent) and medical (24 percent) departments.
  • A higher percentage of female nurses (58 percent) than male nurses (39 percent) had a sleep disorder.
  • Burnout, but not sleep impairment, was associated with lower job performance.

In addition, female nurses who exhibited certain burnout traits were linked with poor sleep quality, while total burnout was associated with work setting, shift pattern and sleep quality.

“There was a stronger correlation of sleep disorders with patient-related burnout than with work-related burnout, which suggests that even when the work environment is favorable, the very nature of nursing activities can produce stressful conditions,” the researchers said.

The study was published in the November issue of Journal of Advanced Nursing.

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