Occupational stress is considered an ongoing epidemic. An inadequate response to a stressful situation can trigger burnout syndrome. In this way, the assistant services (health and teaching) often reach higher levels of burnout. The present study aimed to measure the level of occupational stress and burnout in physiotherapists in the province of Cadiz (Spain), working in the public and/or private sector.
This was an observational, descriptive and cross-sectional study. A sample of 272 physiotherapists took part in the study. The variables measured were sociodemographic variables, working conditions, level of occupational stress and burnout. Burnout includes three characteristics or dimensions: emotional exhaustion (EE), depersonalization (DP) and personal accomplishment (PA). Correspondence analysis of the sociodemographic, organizational and psychological variables were analyzed using Chi-squared significance tests. Spearman correlations and a linear regression analysis were also carried out to determine the dependence between occupational stress and burnout.
The results showed that 30.51% of physiotherapists suffered from a high level of occupational stress, while 34.56% suffered from an average level. There was a clear dependence between a high level of stress and professionals who felt stressed during their academic training period (p = 0.02), those who were in temporary work (p = 0.03) and those with over 10 years of professional experience (p = 0.05). The overall level of burnout was low, since only the EE dimension had a high value; the average was 21.64 ± 10.57. The DP (6.57 ± 4.65) and PA (39.52 ± 5.97) levels were low. There was a significant dependence (p < 0.05) between EE and the following sociodemographic variables: work shift, willingness to study the same degree, stress and inadequate academic training, and a stressful job. In addition, a significant correlation was found between occupational stress and the EE and DP dimensions of burnout.
A high prevalence of occupational stress was detected among physiotherapists in Cadiz (Spain). The levels of occupational stress and its correlation with burnout show that the cumulative effect of stress could lead to burnout. Furthermore, these results regarding occupational stress show the necessity of developing coping strategies for physiotherapists and healthcare staff.