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Job satisfaction, stress and burnout in anaesthesia: relevant topics for anaesthesiologists and healthcare managers?

Rama-Maceiras, Pablo; Parente, Suzana; Kranke, Peter

European Journal of Anaesthesiology (EJA): July 2012 - Volume 29 - Issue 7 - p 311–319
doi: 10.1097/EJA.0b013e328352816d

Job satisfaction is defined as an employee's positive reaction towards his/her work. Changes in health policies, which are seen as a threat to the autonomy of health workers, are associated with a decrease in satisfaction levels, increase burnout among physicians, and may impair the quality and safety of care. The work environment of anaesthesiologists include stressful areas such as the operating theatre, the ICU, and the emergency setting, and this has been linked to higher levels of stress and lower satisfaction. We frequently lack feedback from patients and even our colleagues despite usually working within a team. Nevertheless, job satisfaction and burnout rates in anaesthesia are similar to other specialties. The most relevant factors in job satisfaction are worker autonomy, control of the working environment, recognition of our value, professional relationships, leadership and organisational justice. Although these can be manipulated for good or otherwise, there are additional, less malleable factors such as personality, expectations and motivation of the employee, that play a part. Within organisations there needs to be the will to evaluate employees’ satisfaction, to improve their work environment and to develop strategies and coping mechanisms for professional stress. Personal wellness should also be nurtured, as a satisfactory work-life balance and an adequate social support network might act as a buffer for dissatisfaction and burnout. Improvement in satisfaction might create a positive work climate that would benefit both the safety of our patients and our profession.

From the Department of Anaesthesia and Perioperative Medicine, Complejo Hospitalario Universitario A Coruña, Spain (PRM), Department of Anaesthesia, Centro Hospitalar Lisboa Occidental, Alges, Lisboa, Portugal (SP) and Department of Anaesthesia and Critical Care, University Hospital of Würzburg, Oberdürrbacher, Germany (PK)

Correspondence to Pablo Rama-Maceiras, Department of Anaesthesia and Perioperative Medicine, Complejo Hospitalario Universitario A Coruña, C/Xubias de Arriba n° 84, CP 15006, A Coruña, SpainTel: +34 981 178152; e-mail:;

Published online 2 April 2012

© 2012 European Society of Anaesthesiology