Burnout in consultants in child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) in Ireland: a cross-sectional study.

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Burnout in consultants in child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) in Ireland: a cross-sectional study.

BMJ Open. 2020 Jan 19;10(1):e030354

Authors: McNicholas F, Sharma S, Oconnor C, Barrett E

Physician burnout has reached epidemic levels in many countries, contributing to adverse personal, patient and service outcomes. Adverse socioeconomic conditions, such as the economic downturn in the Ireland post 2008, contribute to a situation of increased demand but inadequate resources. Given a recent unprecedented increase in referrals to Irish child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS), coupled with a fragmented and poorly resourced service, it is important to reflect on consultant child psychiatrists’ well-being.
OBJECTIVES: To report on the level of burnout among consultants working in CAMHS in Ireland using a cross-sectional design.
SETTING: Community CAMHS in Ireland.
PARTICIPANTS: An online questionnaire was sent to all consultant child psychiatrists registered with the Irish Medical Council (n=112). Fifty-two consultants replied (46% response rate).
PRIMARY OUTCOME MEASURES: Questions assessed demographic and occupational details, career satisfaction and perceived management, government and public support. The Copenhagen Burnout Inventory measured personal, work and patient-related burnout.
RESULTS: The prevalence of moderate or higher levels of work-related and personal burnout was 75% and 72.3%, respectively. Fewer (n=14, 26.9%) experienced patient-related burnout. There was a strong correlation between work burnout and personal (r =0.851, n=52, p<0.001) and patient-related burnout (r =0.476, n=52, p<0.001). Lack of confidence in government commitment to investment in CAMHS (p<0.001) and perceived ineffective management by health authorities (p=0.002) were associated with higher burnout scores. Few consultants (n=11, 21%) felt valued in their job. The majority (n=36, 69%) had seriously considered changing jobs, and this was positively associated with higher burnout (p<0.001). Higher burnout scores were present in those (n=15, 28.8%) who would not retrain in child psychiatry (p=0.002).
CONCLUSION: The high level of burnout reported by respondents in this study, and ambivalence about child psychiatry as a career choice has huge professional and service implications. Urgent organisational intervention to support consultant psychiatrists’ well-being is required.

PMID: 31959602 [PubMed – in process]