Burnout and resilience among nurses practicing in high-intensity settings

Cynda Hylton Rushton, Joyce Batcheller, Kaia Schroeder, Pamela Donohue

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: The high level of stress experienced by nurses leads to moral distress, burnout, and a host of detrimental effects. Objectives: To support creation of healthy work environments and to design a 2-phase project to enhance nurses' resilience while improving retention and reducing turnover. Methods: In phase 1, a cross-sectional survey was used to characterize the experiences of a high-stress nursing cohort. A total of 114 nurses in 6 high-intensity units completed 6 survey tools to assess the nurses' characteristics as the context for burnout and to explore factors involved in burnout, moral distress, and resilience. Statistical analysis was used to determine associations between scale measures and to identify independent variables related to burnout. Results: Moral distress was a significant predictor of all 3 aspects of burnout, and the association between burnout and resilience was strong. Greater resilience protected nurses from emotional exhaustion and contributed to personal accomplishment. Spiritual well-being reduced emotional exhaustion and depersonalization; physical well-being was associated with personal accomplishment. Meaning in patient care and hope were independent predictors of burnout. Higher levels of resilience were associated with increased hope and reduced stress. Resilience scores were relatively flat over years of experience. Conclusions: These findings provide the basis for an experimental intervention in phase 2, which is designed to help participants cultivate strategies and practices for renewal, including mindfulness practices and personal resilience plans.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)412-420
Number of pages9
JournalAmerican Journal of Critical Care
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Critical Care

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