Stress and burnout, work engagement and meaningful work in psychosocial health professionals working in Oncology.  — ASN Events

Stress and burnout, work engagement and meaningful work in psychosocial health professionals working in Oncology.  (#158)

Victoria-Mae Rasmussen 1 , Adrienne Turnell 1 , Phyllis Butow 1 , Laura Kirsten 2 , IPOS Research Committee 3 , SIOP International Society of Paediatric Oncology 4 , Ilona Juraskova
  1. CeMPED/ PoCoG, The University of Sydney, NSW, Australia
  2. Nepean Cancer Care Centre, Nepean Hospital, Sydney, NSW, Australia
  3. Research Committee, International Psycho-Oncology Society, New York, USA
  4. SIOP, Society International of Paediatric Oncology, Geneva, Switzerland


High levels of burnout and work-related stress have been reported in oncology health professionals. However, there is a dearth of research pertaining to the experiences of psychosocial-oncology professionals. This study investigated the prevalence, degree and predictors of burnout and work engagement in an international cohort of psychosocial-oncology professionals. The Effort-Reward Imbalance Model (ERI) and the Job Demands-Resources Model (JD-R) guided the research, with the ERI modified to include the Work and Meaning Inventory (WAMI) as a measure of intrinsic reward (meaningful work).


An online questionnaire was sent to members of ten international oncology societies. Hierarchical regression analyses were used to test the relationship between: a) the JD-R and psychosocial-oncologists’ work engagement and burnout; and b) the ERI and work meaning and burnout.


Most participants (N = 436) identified as psychologists (43.1%) followed by social workers (31.4%) and psychiatrists (7.3%). On average, participants reported moderate levels of emotional exhaustion (mean = 22.08, SD = 8.82, range = 0-54) and depersonalisation (mean = 7.44, SD = 3.185, range = 0-30). High levels of emotional exhaustion were reported by 27.3% of the sample. On average psychosocial-oncologists were highly engaged in their work (mean = 5.61, SD = .93, range = 0-6) and found their work to be very meaningful (mean = 32.36, SD = 3.96, range = 10-40). A variety of predictors of burnout were identified.


The study results suggest that whilst psychosocial-oncologists are at risk of burnout, work engagement and meaningful work may be salient protective factors. Preventative burnout interventions may be warranted in this group and may have an indirect positive effect on the quality of patient care. Practical implications are discussed for improving psychosocial-oncologists’ work environment.