What You Need to Know:
The World Health Organization (WHO) has included a more detailed description of occupational burnout for the revised 11th edition of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD), which will be applicable in 2022. Occupational burnout is related to unsuccessfully managed chronic workplace stress. Three criteria are required to meet this WHO classification: feelings of exhaustion or loss of energy, negative feelings/cynicism related to one’s job or feeling mentally disconnected from one’s job, and professional ineffectiveness. Burnout is not classified as a medical condition because it is not an actual diagnosed illness, but rather is viewed as an influential factor in a person’s health status or use of health services.
Burnout often occurs when employees work more hours and feel inadequately compensated for their time. Technology is a significant contributor to today’s high rates of occupational burnout as employees are frequently expected to answer emails or calls on their mobile devices outside normal business hours.
Burnout affects persons from all occupations but is seen in disproportionate numbers in healthcare professionals. Worldwide, approximately one in three physicians experience burnout and 63% of hospital nurses say they experience burnout due to the physically and mentally demanding nature of their jobs. Healthcare professionals are at increased risk for burnout because of documentation demands, high expectations, busy schedules, and immersion in an often-high stakes environment that surrounds the care of sick patients. Physicians in particular are more likely not to share their mental health issues with peers or to seek help in an effort to not appear weak or vulnerable to other doctors.
The WHO is currently writing evidence-based guidelines for mental well-being in the workplace. In the meantime, we can help one another by recognizing burnout and encouraging depressed or suicidal coworkers to seek help for their mental struggles.
Read More About Occupational Burnout:
Behavioral Medicine: A Guide for Clinical Practice, 4e: Chapter 34. Stress and Disease > Work-Related Stress and Burnout
Principles and Practice of Hospital Medicine, 2e: Chapter 41: For Individuals and Practices: Career Sustainability and Avoiding Burnout
World Health Organization: Burn-out, an “occupational phenomenon”: International Classification of Diseases