Occupational variation in burnout among medical staff: Evidence for the stress of higher status

Matthew K. Grace, Jane S. VanHeuvelen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations

Abstract

Contemporary research highlights the serious mental health issues facing physicians and allied health professionals. Yet to date, much of this research has focused on these occupational groups in isolation. Drawing upon data collected from medical staff in a neonatal intensive care unit (N = 222), we address this gap by contrasting the mental health and workplace experiences of four groups of healthcare workers: physicians, nurse practitioners, registered nurses, and respiratory therapists. We find evidence that higher status healthcare workers—physicians and nurse practitioners—are more likely than their colleagues to report work-life conflict, irregular work hours, and heavy work pressure. These stressors explain an appreciable amount of the higher levels of burnout found among physicians and nurse practitioners. Collectively, results lend support to “the stress of higher status” hypothesis and provide insights into the job demands and mental health issues confronted by today's medical workforce.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)199-208
Number of pages10
JournalSocial Science and Medicine
Volume232
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank Bernice Pescosolido and Brian Powell for their comments on earlier drafts of this article. This paper also benefitted from the thoughtful feedback provided by three anonymous reviewers. This project was supported by a Project Development Team within the Indiana Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute, Indiana University School of Medicine; NIH/NCRR Grant #TR000006. This study was approved by the Institutional Review Board at Indiana University-Bloomington: Protocol #1108006542.

Funding Information:
We thank Bernice Pescosolido and Brian Powell for their comments on earlier drafts of this article. This paper also benefitted from the thoughtful feedback provided by three anonymous reviewers. This project was supported by a Project Development Team within the Indiana Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute , Indiana University School of Medicine ; NIH/NCRR Grant # TR000006 . This study was approved by the Institutional Review Board at Indiana University-Bloomington: Protocol #1108006542.

Keywords

  • Burnout
  • Healthcare occupations
  • Intensive care
  • Job demand-control model
  • Job demands-resources model
  • Stress of higher status
  • United States

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