The burden in palliative care assistance: A comparison of psychosocial risks and burnout between inpatient hospice and home care services workers
Published online by Cambridge University Press: 26 January 2022
Literature suggests that home care professionals could be at higher risk of burnout than their colleagues in hospital settings, but research on home-based palliative care is still limited. Our study investigates psychosocial risk factors and burnout among workers involved in palliative care, comparing inpatient hospice, and home care settings.
A cross-sectional study was carried out in a single palliative care organization providing inpatient hospice-based and home care-based assistance in a large urban area of Northern Italy. Participants completed a self-administered questionnaire collecting socio-demographic and occupational data, psychosocial risk factors, and burnout scales (Psychosocial Safety Climate 4; Conflict and Offensive Behavior — COPSOQ II; Work Life Boundaries; Work-home Interaction; Peer Support — HSE; Copenhagen Burnout Inventory).
The study sample included 106 subjects (95% of the overall eligible working population) who were predominantly female (68%) and nurses (57%), with a mean age of 41 years. Compared to inpatient hospice staff, home care workers reported more frequent communications with colleagues (p = 0.03) and patients/caregivers (p = 0.01), while there were no differences in the perception of work intrusiveness. Inpatient hospice workers showed lower peer support (p = 0.08) and lower psychosocial safety climate (p = 0.001) than home care colleagues. The experience of aggressive behaviors was rare, and it was relatively more frequent among inpatient hospice workers, female workers, and health assistants. Average scores of burnout scales were similar for both groups except for caregiver-related burnout, which was higher among inpatient hospice workers compared to home care colleagues (p = 0.008). The number of subjects at risk for work-related burnout was similar for both groups.
Our study confirms the presence of psychological and physical fatigue in both home-based and inpatient hospice palliative care. Results suggest that home care assistance may not be characterized by higher psychological burden compared to inpatient hospice setting. Given the general tendency to increase home-based care in our aging population, it is essential to broaden the knowledge of psychosocial risks in this specific context to properly protect workers’ health.
- Original Article
- © The Author(s), 2022. Published by Cambridge University Press