In the state of São Paulo, at least one in every seven physicians working on the frontline in the fight against Covid-19 had severe symptoms of burnout during the pandemic, according to a study carried out by the Federal University of São Paulo (Unifesp).
Of the 301 doctors interviewed, 45 reported severe cases of at least two of the three main factors triggering burnout: emotional exhaustion, cynicism or indifference towards patients, and lack of professional fulfillment.
Most physicians who had burnout experienced physical exhaustion or emotional fatigue. “For exhaustion, the factors that most appeared were tiredness at the end of the day, a feeling that they were working too hard, and exhaustion when getting up in the morning. The biggest cause of this was an excess of tasks, because, with Covid-19, they were overloaded,” explained Laura Câmara Lima, the professor who supervised the study, speaking to newspaper O Estado de S. Paulo.
On a scale of zero to six — used to measure the level of exhaustion — the average was 3.54, which is considered high. The rate of physicians who did not feel professionally fulfilled was also high, at 3.15. When it came to cynicism and indifference, the index was lower, with an average of 2 on the six-point scale.
Related to stress in the work environment, burnout syndrome is recognized as an occupational disease by Brazil’s Labor Ministry.