Edited by Janice Langan-Fox and Cary Cooper
Chapter 4: Occupational Stress, Professional Burnout and Job Satisfaction Among Psychiatrists
Antonio Lasalvia INTRODUCTION Professionals caring for long-term and seriously ill patients frequently experience distressing emotional situations and profound suffering. These emotions may include the need to ‘rescue’ patients, a sense of failure and frustration when illness progresses, feelings of powerlessness against illness and its associated losses, grief, fear of becoming ill oneself, and a desire to remain emotionally distant from and/or avoid patients to escape these feelings. Although common in everyday clinical practice, these emotions often affect both the quality of care physicians provide and their own well-being (Meier et al., 2001). Individuals working in the mental health field have been identified as a high-risk group for mental illness (Leary and Brown, 1995; Nolan et al., 1995) and burnout (Pines and Maslach, 1978; Leiter and Harvie, 1996) themselves. Psychiatrists in particular are at a high risk of depression, anxiety, psychiatric caseness and burnout (Looney et al., 1980; Naisberg-Fennig et al., 1991; Deary et al., 1996a; Prosser et al., 1996). Fagin et al. (1996) proposed a three-stage model of the stress process in mental health care: external stressors (i.e. specific occupational stressors, minor ‘hassles’ and major life events); mediating or buffering factors (such as self-esteem, social support and individual coping skills); and stress outcomes (generally measured in terms of psychological ill health, burnout and job satisfaction). This chapter examines external sources of stress that impact psychiatrists’ professional lives (with a specific emphasis on occupational stressors) and discusses the negative outcomes of chronic exposure to external job-related stressors, i.e. professional burnout and...
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