Burnout of Critical Care Nurses

Table of Contents

The article analyzed in this paper is “Burnout in critical care nurses: A literature review” by Kirstin Epp (2012). The phenomenon of burnout is an issue that can affect anybody in any line of work regardless of occupation, but it is a serious problem for critical care nurses in particular, because of the high-stress environment that they have to work in. In the article, Epp (2012) explores the stress factors that contribute to the development of burnout, as well as different strategies that can be used to prevent it.

Summary of the Article

The article is based on the review of the literature pertaining to the subject that was published between 2007 and 2012. Firstly, Epp (2012) closely examines the phenomenon of burnout and picks out the key elements that can be used to describe it, since it appears that there is no accepted definition of what it actually is. The key elements recognized in the article are high emotional exhaustion; high depersonalization, cynicism, or detachment; and low levels of personal effectiveness or accomplishment (Epp, 2012). Emotional, physical and mental exhaustion is considered to be the main symptom of burnout. Secondly, the article tries to establish just how pervasive the issue of burnout is by referencing relevant studies conducted on the subject. Thirdly, Epp (2012) describes the development of burnout by explaining in detail each of the aforementioned key elements and giving examples of things that contribute to the development of emotional exhaustion, depersonalization and the feeling of being ineffective. Finally, the article examines the possible ways to prevent the development of burnout. It is emphasized that nursing management can influence the factors that lead to chronic stress by making the work environment more supportive and more comfortable for critical care nurses.

Searching Experience

The article was found in the Google database for scholarly articles at scholar.google.com. The database is extremely easy to use, and the search is almost always guaranteed to provide at least some relevant results. The key words used in the search were critical care, critical care nursing, ICU nursing, and nursing burnout. In order to make the search results more relevant, the search parameters were set to only show articles published in the last five years. The Google Scholar database can be very useful for anyone who has a personal or professional interest in scholarly, peer-reviewed journal articles.

Analysis of the Article

The article is written in a way that makes it easy to understand, even for those who might be unfamiliar with the topic. There seems to be no inherent bias in an author’s opinion on the subject and the evidence provided is convincing. The article is appropriate to its target audience. The strength of the article is that it does a very good job in discussing the phenomenon of burnout of critical care nurses. All of the aspects of the problem are described in detail, using a qualitative method of research. According to Ormston, Spencer, Barnard, and Snape (2013), a qualitative study can be described as “a concern with ‘what’ ‘why’ and ‘how’ questions rather than ‘how many’, a focus on processes” (p. 3). The article answers the questions and explains what burnout is, why it develops, and how it can be prevented. However, there are some weaknesses in it that should be noted. For example, there are not enough references to relevant studies researching the practical application of the different possibilities of burnout prevention.


Burnout is a serious issue that is usually caused by a stressful work environment. Critical care nurses are more prone to it because of the nature of their work. The reviewed article deals with the issue by exploring the reasons for the development of burnout and discussing how it can be prevented.


Epp, K. (2012). Burnout in critical care nurses: a literature review. Dynamics, 23(4), 25-31.

Ormston, R., Spencer, L., Barnard, M., & Snape, D. (2013). The foundations of qualitative research. In J. Ritchie, J. Lewis, C. M. Nicholls & R. Ormston (Eds.), Qualitative research practice: A guide for social science students and researchers (pp. 1-27). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publishing.

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