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.

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Predicting Burnout Among Medical Professionals

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.