Burnout syndrome in Nova Scotia dental hygienists during the Covid-19 pandemic
March 23 @ 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Speaker Kim Haslam
Background: Burnout syndrome is the result of prolonged occupational stress. The syndrome has 3 dimensions: emotional exhaustion (EE), depersonalization (DP), and reduced personal accomplishment (PA). This study aimed to examine the prevalence of the 3 dimensions of burnout in dental hygienists in Nova Scotia, Canada, (N = 745) as they returned to work during the COVID-19 pandemic following a furlough; to explore the effect of burnout during COVID-19 on dental hygienists' professional lives; and to determine the tools and methods that dental hygienists use to overcome burnout. Methods: In this cross-sectional study, participants were asked to complete an anonymous survey inclusive of demographic information, employment characteristics, the Maslach Burnout Inventory Human Services Survey for Medical Personnel (MBI-HSS [MP]), and 2 open-ended questions. Results: The response rate was 34.9% (n = 260). Approximately one-third (36.2%) of respondents met the criteria for burnout. Contributors to burnout were time, providing dental hygiene care, expectations of dentists, physical and mental health, lack of autonomy, and the COVID-19 pandemic. Reported mechanisms to overcome occupational stress centered on work-life balance, social support networks, working in a positive environment, and physical activity. Discussion: This study took place during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, which may have influenced the rate of burnout among dental hygienists, particularly within the EE domain where scores were twice as high as those reported in pre-COVID-19 studies. Conclusion: Dental hygienists may be at risk for burnout. Recognizing the signs and symptoms of burnout and implementing healthy behaviours may reduce its detrimental effects.