Burnout among advanced life support paramedics in Johannesburg, South Africa

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Abstract

Objectives

To establish the prevalence of burnout among advanced life support (ALS) paramedics in Johannesburg, South Africa and assess the relationship between burnout and a number of demographic characteristics of the sampled ALS paramedics.

Design

Cross-sectional internet-based survey.

Method

Survey invitations were sent via email to 98 registered ALS paramedics in the Johannesburg area. The survey questionnaire was created by combining the Copenhagen Burnout Inventory (CBI) with numerous distractor questions. Burnout was defined as a CBI score >50. Descriptive analysis was performed and results subjected to Chi-square testing in order to establish dependencies between burnout scores and demographic factors.

Results

A 46% (n=45) response rate was obtained. Forty responses were eligible for analysis. 30% of these respondents had total burnout according to their CBI score, while 63% exhibited some degree of burnout in one of the CBI subcategories. The results of the subcategory analyses showed that 23% of respondents experienced burnout in the patient care-related category, 38% experienced burnout in the work-related category and 53% experienced burnout in the personal burnout category. There were no statistical differences in the burnout scores according to gender (p=0.292), position held (p=0.193), employment sector (p=0.414), years of experience (p=0.228) or qualification (p=0.846). Distractor questions showed that paramedics feel overworked, undervalued, poorly remunerated and unsupported by their superiors.

Conclusion

This sample of Johannesburg-based paramedics had a greater prevalence of burnout compared with their international counterparts. Further research is needed to identify the true extent of this problem.

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