Scholarly article on topic 'The Effect of Emotional Intelligence on Burnout in Healthcare Professionals'

The Effect of Emotional Intelligence on Burnout in Healthcare Professionals Academic research paper on "Economics and business"

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Abstract of research paper on Economics and business, author of scientific article — Laura-Elena Năstasă, Anca Daniela Fărcaş

Abstract This research aims to identify a relationship between medical professionals’ emotional intelligence and burnout and to highlight a correlation between the level of emotional intelligence development and the burnout syndrome dimensions (emotional exhaustion, depersonalization and personal accomplishment). There were involved 120 doctors and nurses who have individually completed the Emotional Intelligence Scale Schutte et al., 1998) and the Maslach Burnout Inventory (Maslach & Jackson, 1981). The results indicate that personal accomplishment in healthcare professionals is influenced by the level of emotional intelligence development and they support the importance of a training focused on developing emotional intelligence in specialists from the healthcare system.

Academic research paper on topic "The Effect of Emotional Intelligence on Burnout in Healthcare Professionals"

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Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences 187 (2015) 78 - 82

PSIWORLD 2014

The Effect of Emotional Intelligence on Burnout in Healthcare

Professionals

Laura-Elena Nastasaa, Anca Daniela Farcasb*

aFaculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences, Transilvania University of Brasov, 29 Eroilor Blvd., Brasov 500036, Romania bFaculty of Medicine, Iuliu Hatieganu University of Medicine and Pharmacy of Cluj-Napoca, 8 Babes Street, Cluj-Napoca 400012, Romania

Abstract

This research aims to identify a relationship between medical professionals' emotional intelligence and burnout and to highlight a correlation between the level of emotional intelligence development and the burnout syndrome dimensions (emotional exhaustion, depersonalization and personal accomplishment). There were involved 120 doctors and nurses who have individually completed the Emotional Intelligence Scale Schutte et al, 1998) and the Maslach Burnout Inventory (Maslach & Jackson, 1981). The results indicate that personal accomplishment in healthcare professionals is influenced by the level of emotional intelligence development and they support the importance of a training focused on developing emotional intelligence in specialists from the healthcare system.

© 2015TheAuthors.PublishedbyElsevierLtd.This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license (http://creativecommons.Org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/).

Peer-review under responsibility of the Scientific Committee of PSIWORLD 2014.

Keywords: emotional intelligence; burnout syndrome; emotional exhaustion; depersonalization; personal accomplishment.

1. Introduction

The medical system in Romania is felt by medical staff as suffering and choked, dominated by a culture of helplessness that favors the emergence of feelings of dissatisfaction, bitterness and distrust among healthcare professionals and patients (Spanu, Baban, Bria & Dumitra scu, 2012).

The burnout syndrome is considered a public health problem due to its increasing frequency and the negative consequences it has on the healthcare system. This hampers the medical system, either directly, by affecting the health of the professionally exhausted medical employees or indirectly, through the consequences it has on the

* Corresponding author. Tel.: +4-0740-090-936; fax: +4-0268-416-184. E-mail address: lauranastase@unitbv.ro; ancafarcas@yahoo.com

1877-0428 © 2015 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license (http://creativecommons.Org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/).

Peer-review under responsibility of the Scientific Committee of PSIWORLD 2014. doi:10.1016/j.sbspro.2015.03.015

quality of medical care. According to expert studies, the burnout syndrome has been identified as a risk factor for future heart disease incidence (Toker, Melamed, Berliner, Zeltser, & Shapira, 2012) and a predictor for subsequent development of musculoskeletal pain among people apparently healthy (Armon, Melamed, Shiroma, & Shapira, 2010).

Professional exhaustion (the burnout syndrome) can be defined as a severe consequence of prolonged subjection to stress at work, which develops when demands from the professional area and the personal capacities are unbalanced for a long time (Kalimo, Pahkin, Mutanen & Toppinen-Tanner, 2003). It can be found in any profession (Bakker, Demerouti & Schaufeli, 2002), but it mostly affects those who have chosen to work with people (medical personnel, social workers, therapists, teachers, educators, lawyers, civil servants). It can also coexist with other illnesses, such as depression, anxiety, alcoholism (Ahola, Vaananen, Koshinen, Kowvonen & Shirom, 2010). According to Maslach (1993), the burnout syndrome has the following three dimensions:

• Emotional exhaustion - it highlights lack of energy, perception of the inadequacy between one's own emotions and the context and the fact that significant resources have been consumed at work. It is the basic dimension, manifested by a decreased emotional tone, emotional indifference or oversaturation.

• Depersonalization - it refers to the disruption of interpersonal relationships as the affected person becomes either dependent on others, or negativistic, indifferent, cynical.

• Personal accomplishment - it can manifest either through the tendency of negative self-assessment of one's capabilities, achievements, professional success, or by limiting one's opportunities and obligations to others. Consequently, the affected person is perceived as incompetent and incapable to achieve goals.

Researchers in the field have converged to the fact that burnout does not show immediate symptoms, but appears as a gradual response to emotional exhaustion and prolonged exposure to stressors, which in turn lead to an increase in the degree of dehumanization and professional dissatisfaction (Leiter, 1991; Maslach, 2003).

According to Young, Valsch & Collin (1996), emotions are closely linked to a person's professional goals, desires, plans and needs (cit. in Brown, George-Curran, Smith, 2003). Defined in terms of awareness, understanding and expression of emotions, emotional intelligence is considered the one which, along with cognitive intelligence, helps a person adapt more easily to situations and challenges that may arise in personal and professional life. The diversity of the patterns of emotional intelligence determined their classification. Thus, Mayer, Caruso & Salovey (1999) made a distinction between:

• The skills model - the model they developed to interpret emotional intelligence as a cognitive ability.

• Mixed models - models that address emotional intelligence as a combination of cognitive abilities and personality traits (cit in. Lyusin, 2006).

Regarding the relationship between emotional intelligence and professional exhaustion, there is little research in recent years. Burnout can be seen as the negative pole of employee wellbeing and the opposite would be work engagement (Schaufeli, Leiter & Maslach, 2008). Looking from another perspective, the positive pole would be emotional intelligence, which is a successful adaptation to an unfavourable environment, while burnout could occur as a result of the failure to adapt to the same environment (Cipriano, 2002).

2. Objectives and Hypotheses

1.1. Hypotheses

This research aims to highlight the relationship between the level of emotional intelligence development and burnout in medical staff. In this respect, the following hypotheses were formulated:

1. Healthcare professionals with high emotional intelligence experience low levels of burnout.

2. There are associations between emotional intelligence in medical professionals and burnout dimensions (emotional exhaustion, depersonalization and personal accomplishment).

3.Method

3.1.Participants

There were involved 120 healthcare professionals (doctors and nurses), both male and female, aged 26-52.

3.2. Instruments

The specialists involved were asked to individually complete the following two psychological tests:

• Maslach Burnout Inventory - MBI was designed as a necessity to assess professional burnout in employees working in areas involving relations with the customers. It contains 25 items, as follows: emotional exhaustion (9 items), depersonalization (5 items) and personal accomplishment (8 items) to which there were added three (optional) involvement items. The inventory is a self-administered one, where high scores on the scales of emotional exhaustion and depersonalization correspond with high rates of experiencing burnout. In contrast, low scores on personal accomplishment scale correspond to a high degree of burnout. The Cronbach alpha coefficient of estimated internal consistency was .83 (on frequency) and .84 (on intensity), and for each subscale it ranges from .89 for emotional exhaustion to .74 for personal accomplishment (Maslach & Jackson, 1981). For this research, we obtained a high Cronbach alpha index of internal consistency (a = .93) and for the three scales, as follows: for emotional exhaustion, it was .90, for depersonalization, it was .72, and for personal accomplishment, it was .86.

• Emotional Intelligence Scale - EIS was developed by Schutte, Malouff, Hall, Haggerty, Cooper, Golden & Dornheim (1998). Its purpose is to evaluate emotional intelligence from the perspective of its skills, based on the original model proposed by Salovey & Mayer (1990), using a self-administered questionnaire. The scale includes 33 items selected from an original 62-item scale and the response to each item is given based on a Lickert scale, where 1 represents total disagreement and 5, total agreement. Regarding the psychometric indicators of the scale, Cronbach's alpha internal consistency coefficient is .87, and the estimate coefficient of the test - retest reliability is .78. The predictive validity was tested in the American school population, the scores obtained by completing the scale at the beginning of the school year correlating with the final grade point average with r (63) = .32, p = .01. EIS showed a good discriminative validity, having proved to be different from the cognitive abilities, as measured by SAT tests, r (41) = - .06 (Schutte et al., 1998). For this research, we obtained a high Cronbach alpha index of internal consistency (a = .86), very close to that presented by its authors.

4. Results

In order to assess our two hypotheses, we conducted a correlational analysis, whose results are shown in Table 1.

Table 1. Correlations between emotional intelligence, burnout and its dimensions

Burnout syndrome and its dimensions Emotional Intelligence - MBI - EIS

Emotional exhaustion - MBI

Depersonalization MBI

Personal

accomplishment - MBI

Burnout syndrome - MBI r -.176

Emotional exhaustion- MBI r -.138

Depersonalization - MBI r .021

Personal accomplishment - r -.451* MBI

.838* 1

.162 -.015 1

.774**

.626** .157 1

p <.01, p <.001

These results emphasize that there is a negative statistically significant correlation (r = - .451, p <.01) between the level of emotional intelligence development measured with the Emotional Intelligence Scale - EIS and the personal

accomplishment measured with the Maslach Burnout Inventory - MBI. The intensity of the relationship between emotional intelligence and personal accomplishment is medium to large (r2= .203). The burnout in healthcare professionals measured with Maslach Burnout Inventory - MBI statistically significantly correlated with emotional exhaustion (r = .838, p <.001) and with personal accomplishment (r = .774, p <.001). The coefficient of determination indicates a large effect size, both for the correlation between burnout and emotional exhaustion in healthcare professionals (r2 = .702) and in terms of the relationship between their burnout and personal accomplishment (r2 =. 599). Also, 39% of the variability of personal accomplishment is explained by the medical staff s emotional exhaustion (r = .626, r2 = .391, p <.001).

In the context of the above results, we examined the possible moderating variables of covariance relationships between emotional intelligence, burnout syndrome and its dimensions. The results support the existence of statistically significant differences between doctors and nurses regarding:

• the level of emotional intelligence development (t = 3.73, p <.001);

• personal accomplishment (t = 2.40, p <.05).

However, we noticed statistically significant differences between female and male healthcare professionals as concerning:

• burnout syndrome (t = 3.91, p <.001);

• emotional exhaustion (t = 3.11, p <.01);

• depersonalization (t = 2.55, p <.05);

• personal accomplishment (t = 3.93, p <.001).

3. Conclusions

In our study, the level of burnout experienced by the medical personnel did not correlate with the level of emotional intelligence development. Analysing the three dimensions of burnout, we found that healthcare professionals' emotional intelligence development causes a significant reduction in the tendency to perceive themselves as incompetent and incapable to achieve goals. The ability to use different emotions to generate optimal solutions to everyday problems provides healthcare professionals the opportunity to counteract feelings of dissatisfaction, bitterness and mistrust that are favoured, according to Spanu, Baban, Bria & Dumitrascu (2012) by the culture of helplessness characteristic of this field, in Romania. A possible explanation for the insignificant influence of emotional intelligence on burnout in the target group could be that 20% of the variability in the level of experienced burnout is explained by emotional intelligence.

In this research, doctors and nurses felt the same degree of burnout, emotional exhaustion and depersonalization. Looking at the data, we noticed that nurses have experienced a higher level of personal accomplishment compared to the doctors, due to the tendency of negative self-assessment as concerning personal resources and professional success. On the other hand, the level of emotional intelligence development was higher among doctors. It is possible that different professional attributes of the two categories studied may explain these results, because according to the study done by Maslach, Jackson & Lute (1986) the presence of specific requests, work overload and personal conflicts, and also lack of specific resources (social support, autonomy and involvement in decision making) influence the appearance of professional exhaustion (cit. in Demerouti et al., 2001).

The burnout syndrome is felt more acutely by women. While depersonalization is found to be stronger in male subjects, emotional exhaustion and personal accomplishment are more present among female healthcare professionals. The results are consistent with those of Maslach, Schaufeli, & Leiter (2001), who observed that within various researches, women had a higher score than men in emotional exhaustion, whereas men tend to have a higher score in depersonalization.

In conclusion, this study reveals that there is a medium to large statistically significant correlation between the development of emotional intelligence and personal accomplishment. The subjects' ability to manage their own emotions and impulses, to be more flexible, detached by problems and to express their emotions in an assertive manner can be a real resource for healthcare professionals facing the burnout syndrome. Cherniss (2000) argues for

the role of emotional intelligence in the workplace, stating that the implementation of programmes that are based on applications of emotional intelligence are necessary because of employees' poor emotional baggage, whereas emotional skills are essential in obtaining performance at work (according to previous studies, self-confidence, flexibility, empathy, social skills are the abilities associated with performance). The fact that people spend most of their time at work is another strong enough reason to introduce people to the emotional intelligence domain. As a result, our research supports the opportunity of implementing a program focused on the development of emotional intelligence that can facilitate the resilience of healthcare professionals, who are under the pressure of constant and inconsistent changes. It is a continuation of another study (Farcas & Nästasä, 2014) which showed that the emotional intelligence of patients with heart failure appears to be an important factor in patient-centred care and that intervention on the development of emotional intelligence, both in doctors and in patients, can improve doctor-patient communication and patient-centred care and can reduce feelings of dissatisfaction, distrust and hopelessness of both categories.

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