VA Nurse Burnout and Patient Safety Outcomes
One aspect of the healthcare workforce that has not been adequately addressed is workforce burnout, a psychological response to work-related stress that can result in emotional exhaustion, depersonalization (pulling away from others), and reduced perceptions of personal accomplishment. This study explored the links between burnout and patient safety outcomes in 148 nurses from one VA hospital in the Midwest. Burnout was assessed using the Maslach Burnout Inventory (MBI) – the most commonly used burnout measure in the literature. Investigators also examined patient safety outcomes, including patient safety perceptions, and adverse event reporting. Results show that burnout was associated with perceptions of a less safe environment. While burnout was not associated with event-reporting behavior, it was negatively associated with reporting of near misses (mistakes that did not lead to adverse events). The finding that higher burnout was associated with lower incidence of near-miss reports is of concern because these reports are essential to addressing safety concerns in the environment.
Halbesleben J, Wakefield B, Wakefield D, and Cooper L. Nurse Burnout and Patient Safety Outcomes: Safety Perception vs. Reporting Behavior. Western Journal of Nursing Research August 2008;30(5):560-577.
This study was supported through the Harry S. Truman Memorial Veterans’ Hospital. Dr. Wakefield was supported by an HSR&D Research Career Development Award.