Burnout in Formal Caregivers of Elderly and Chronically Ill – Current Affairs

Carla Susana Vicente, Rui Aragão Oliveira


Aim: The study aims to explore which of the dimensions associated with burnout has greater relevance and the influence of environmental and relational factors in the development of this syndrome. Method: The study has used a mixed methodology. A convenience sample, entailing 15 participants (93.3% female) was selected according burnout criteria (n = 7) and high levels of emotional exhaustion (n = 8). The average age is located between 41.6 (SD = 8.92) and 37.2 (SD = 11.54). The Maslach Burnout Inventory (MBI-HSS) was applied for quantitative assessment and semi-structured interview was used to explore clinical signs, problems, satisfying aspects and the constraints experienced in their work. The interviews were transcribed, coded and analysed by a jury of two researchers, according to content analysis (Bardin, 2011). Results: The clinical manifestation of burnout most often reported was emotional exhaustion. The most commonly reported factors were dealing with the weakness of the other, the impact of death, interpersonal conflicts, poor social support, excessive investment in work and not meeting the expectations. Theoretical models that best suited to the understanding of burnout in this sample are ones emphasising the intrapersonal and relational dynamics. Conclusion: Emotional exhaustion is the most frequently mentioned dimension to the occurrence of phenomena of burnout in professionals who care for elderly people in the study sample. In this context under study, factors such: interpersonal relationships and the experiences/meanings associated with the work, seems to have greater influence in the development of burnout, than organizational factors.


burnout syndrome; emotional exhaustion; social workers; geriatric; chronic illness