J Genet Couns 2016 08 26;25(4):731-41. Epub 2016 May 26.
Department of Molecular Genetics, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada.
Burnout represents a critical disruption in an individual's relationship with work, resulting in a state of exhaustion in which one's occupational value and capacity to perform are questioned. Burnout can negatively affect an individual's personal life, as well as employers in terms of decreased work quality, patient/client satisfaction, and employee retention. Occupational stress is a known contributor to burnout and occurs as a result of employment requirements and factors intrinsic to the work environment. Empirical research examining genetic counselor-specific burnout is limited; however, existing data suggests that genetic counselors are at increased risk for burnout. To investigate the relationship between occupational stress and burnout in genetic counselors, we administered an online survey to members of three genetic counselor professional organizations. Validated measures included the Maslach Burnout Inventory-General Survey (an instrument measuring burnout on three subscales: exhaustion, cynicism, and professional efficacy) and the Occupational Stress Inventory-Revised (an instrument measuring occupational stress on 14 subscales). Of the 353 respondents, more than 40 % had either considered leaving or left their job role due to burnout. Multiple regression analysis yielded significant predictors for burnout risk. The identified sets of predictors account for approximately 59 % of the variance in exhaustion, 58 % of the variance in cynicism, and 43 % of the variance in professional efficacy. Our data confirm that a significant number of genetic counselors experience burnout and that burnout is correlated with specific aspects of occupational stress. Based on these findings, practice and research recommendations are presented.