Research Article| Volume 45, ISSUE 3, P393-399, February 2009

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Are Australian oncology health professionals burning out? A view from the trenches

  • Afaf Girgis
    Centre for Health Research and Psycho-oncology, The Cancer Council NSW, University of Newcastle, Hunter Medical Research Institute, Locked Bag 10, Wallsend, NSW 2287, Australia
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  • Vibeke Hansen
    Corresponding author: Tel.: +61 2 4924 6372; fax: +61 2 4924 6208.
    Centre for Health Research and Psycho-oncology, The Cancer Council NSW, University of Newcastle, Hunter Medical Research Institute, Locked Bag 10, Wallsend, NSW 2287, Australia
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  • David Goldstein
    Department of Medicine UNSW, Department of Medical Oncology, Prince of Wales Hospital, Australia
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Published:November 17, 2008DOI:



      To determine the prevalence and predictors of burnout and psychiatric morbidity in the Australian oncology workforce.


      A cross-sectional nationwide survey was conducted with 740 (56%) members of the Clinical Oncological Society of Australia.


      High levels of [emotional] exhaustion were present in 32.8% of participants with direct patient contact (DPC), and 26.7% of those with no direct patient contact (NDPC). The main predictors of burnout were dissatisfaction with leave arrangements for the purpose of preventing or recovering from burnout, increased hours of patient contact, and perceived need for communication skill training.


      Australian cancer care workers experience considerable occupational distress whilst possessing high levels of personal accomplishment. Regular screening for burnout is recommended with particular focus on those at-risk staff who have a substantial amount of patient contact, neglect to take adequate leave, or who have not attended communication skills training.


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