ESE teacher in a study on “burnout” in health professionals

Carla Serrão coordinates a study that points out a strong percentage of physiotherapists in “situation of physical exhaustion and psychological fatigue”.

More than 40% of Portuguese physiotherapists are in a situation of physical exhaustion and psychological fatigue due to the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic in the workplace. The number is advanced by a nationwide study, developed and coordinated by Carla Serrão from the Escola Superior de Educação do Politécnico do Porto and by Ivone Duarte from the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Porto | CINTESIS – Center for Research in Health Technologies and Services (FMUP / CINTESIS). The aim of this unprecedented work was to assess the impact of COVID-19 on health professionals, assessing the role of resilience in depression, anxiety and “burnout”. Of the 511 physical therapists who answered the online questionnaire in May, 42% admit to being in “burnout”, a percentage higher than that of other national and international studies, which point to 10 to 30%. In this sample, 52% of physical therapists treat patients in person, 35% are in inpatient services and 18% work directly with patients infected with SARS-CoV-2. Half of the physiotherapists are working in the private sector.

The study, which included more than 2000 health professionals (doctors, nurses, physiotherapists, pharmacists, psychologists) concluded that more than half had high levels of personal “burnout” and “burnout” associated with work; 33% had anxious symptoms, 29% depressed symptoms and about 37% had symptoms associated with stress. According to Carla Serrão “these results are indicative that the pandemic has exacerbated some problems in terms of mental health, with a particular emotional impact on health professionals who were in the direct provision of care”. For the researcher, this pandemic context was a period of great uncertainty. “During the first wave, the demands placed on health professionals were intense and the success of public health results depended, to a large extent, on the proper and effective functioning of these teams.

However, these results show the effect of cumulative stress factors. , the result of exposure to biological factors, the extension of work shifts, the lack of human and material resources, responsibilities and the need to make decisions. ” “These results are alarming and require intervention at different levels (primary, secondary and tertiary prevention), with differentiated care at the level of mental health taking into account the intensity and duration of the symptoms”, clarifies, also warning that the Psychological resilience is shown to be a protective factor against “burnout”, intervention in this domain is considered a priority. Health institutions should offer professionals programs for the development of socio-emotional competences, self-care, self-compassion and stress management. Scientific evidence allows highlighting the usefulness of third generation cognitive-behavioral therapies, namely, programs based on Mindfulness, in response to chronic stress, depression and anxiety. “

Master in Health Psychology, PhD in Psychology, professor at Escola Superior de Education of P.PORTO since 2002, Carla Serrão is the Coordinator of the Higher Professional Technical Course in Gerontological Support Technologies and Services.The main areas of research developed over the last years include Sexual Education, Health Promotion, Health Literacy , Gender Equality, Aging, Palliative and End of Life Care.

Source: Polytechnic Institute of Oporto

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