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Burnout and Moral Distress among Health Care Personnel in the Decline of COVID-19 Pandemic

Maria Papatheodorou*, Christos Nouris, Ioannis Styliadis, Theo Bargiotas and Dimitrios Mihail

Background: Moral Distress (MD) and Burnout of Health Care Personnel (HCP) were extensively studied during the pandemic. However, little information is available about their prevalence after its decline. In this study we assess the prevalence of MD, burnout and the factors that contribute and alleviate MD in HCP eight months after the last wave of the pandemic has subsided.
Methods: This cross-sectional study was conducted during September 2023. The British Medical Association questionnaire referring to MD was distributed to the hospital nursing and medical personnel. Moreover, the Maslach Burnout questionnaire was addressed only to the nursing personnel.
Results: 516 valid questionnaires were included in the study. Nurses’ participation rate was 67% and doctors 41%. 73.8% of the participants experienced MD in relation to their ability to provide care. Participants believe that important factors for MD are insufficient staff (84.7%), mental fatigue (72.3%), physical fatigue (64.9%) and lack of time to give sufficient support to patients (37.4%). Moreover, factors that would alleviate MD are more staff (81.6%), less bureaucracy (45.2%), greater emotional and psychological support (44.6%) and more training (39.5%). MD was identical among doctors and nurses (73%). Doctors score higher than nurses for lack of time to give sufficient support to patients (42% vs 31.2%) and public health decisions affecting communities (28.7% vs 20.1%). To alleviate MD, doctors ask for more ethical and legal support (55.4% vs 27.9%) and working fewer hours (40.1% vs 28.1%). Concerning Burnout, nurses score high on emotional exhaustion and depersonalization (3.8 and 2.4). A strong relationship was found between emotional exhaustion and MD, O.R=3.7 (C.I 1.75-7.81), p<0.01.
Conclusion: MD and burnout persist among HCP after the decline of the pandemic. Participants believe that institutional and public health decisions would help alleviate MD. Leaders and institutions must provide more supportive environments to moderate MD.

Published Date: 2024-05-13; Received Date: 2024-04-15