Predicting Burnout Among Medical Professionals
the MPR take:
Medical professionals are prone to occupational burnout, but could brain imaging help to understand and predict this occurrence? 25 nurses with <11 years of professional experience were assessed using four self-report measures of burnout, empathy, emotional dissonance, and alexithymia along with fMRI scanning while viewing painful or nonpainful situations in video clips. A positive correlation was found between burnout severity and dispositional empathy, as well as emotional dissonance and alexithymia. From the fMRI, burnout severity was linked to a reduction in empathy-related brain activity and a greater difficulty in recognizing one’s own emotional state. These results confirm prior research that connects burnout with weakened emotional regulation.
Empathy cultivates deeper interpersonal relationships and is important for socialization. However, frequent exposure to emotionally-demanding situations may put people at risk for burnout. To better understand empathy-induced burnout among medical professionals, exploring the relationship between burnout severity and strength of empathy-related brain activity may be key.
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