Burnout In Radiation Therapy: Examining The Six Leading Influences
Recent studies are highlighting the dangers of burnout amongst healthcare workers, including radiation therapists. Since burnout is associated with an increase in medical errors (Sanchez-Reilly, 2013), it affects both the well-being of the patient and patient satisfaction scores, which are important to a hospital’s reputation. Burnout has a positive correlation with job dissatisfaction and increased employee turnover, making it both a financial and quality issue. Organizations acknowledge that burnout leads to unhappy employees, and unhappy employees are less likely to be engaged in their work, thereby not producing the best “products” (Sehlen, 2009). By examining which components seem to be the most influential on pronounced expressions of burnout, leadership can focus on reducing the major influences effect on their employees.
The purpose of my mixed methods study was to discover which of the six influences were most powerful in impacting burnout in radiation therapists, and how oncology leadership could manipulate workplace factors to provide a better work environment for radiation therapists. The study involved the use of two validated survey tools, the Maslach Burnout Inventory (MBI-HSS) and the Areas of Work-life scale to determine what level of burnout was evident in the radiation therapists (RTs) at Sharp Healthcare, and which work-life factors seem to be most influential in causing burnout. Demographic information was also gathered with the MBI survey. Qualitative data was also collected though structured interviews with the radiation oncology leadership, by examining the group results of the surveys and offering suggestions on organizational changes for improvement.
The results of the burnout survey (MBI-HSS) showed a moderate score for Emotional Exhaustion (EE), a low score for Depersonalization (DP) and a high score for Personal Accomplishment (PA). The MBI scores for the RTs at Sharp scored more favorable than the national norms in all sections. The results for the AWL indicated that the Sharp RTs show a positive job-person fit, scoring above the value of 3 in all six areas of work-life. Chi squared tests showed strong significance of the demographic information collected, such as age, education, employment status, gender and years of experience, and therefore the null hypothesis was rejected. One-way ANOVA showed linear correlations with all demographic determinants except for age. Qualitative data collected through structured interviews examined the group results for both surveys with the oncology leaders for insight on the results, and for suggestions on organizational change to reduce burnout. The leader’s common suggestions indicated that a greater involvement of the RTs in department decisions could help reduce expression of burnout due to the influence of control in the workplace. A greater focus on workload and department staffing was also suggested by the leader majority to account for overtime and accommodate unpredictable cases, which adds to the workload burden of regular staff RTs.