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Indian Journal of Medical and Paediatric Oncology
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Year : 2019  |  Volume : 40  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 111-120

Emotional exhaustion in cancer clinicians: A mixed methods exploration

1 Department of Palliative Care and Psycho-oncology, Tata Medical Centre, Major Arterial Road, Newtown, Kolkata, India
2 Newcastle University Business School, Newcastle University, Newcastle NE1 7RU, United Kingdom
3 Department of Combined Honours, Newcastle University, Newcastle Upon Tyne, Newcastle NE1 7RU, United Kingdom
4 Department of Internal Medicine, Tata Medical Centre, Major Arterial Road, Newtown, Kolkata, India
5 Department of Surgical Oncology, Tata Medical Centre, Major Arterial Road, Newtown, Kolkata, India
6 National AIDS Research Institute, 73, ‘G’-Block, MIDC, Bhosari, Pune, Maharashtra, India
7 Department of Palliative Care and Psycho-oncology, Tata Medical Centre, Major Arterial Road, Newtown, Kolkata, India; Gynaecological Cancer Research Centre, EGA Institute for Women's Health, University College London, London W1T 7DN, United Kingdom

Correspondence Address:
Soumitra Shankar Datta
Department of Palliative Care and Psycho-Oncology, Tata Medical Center, Major Arterial Road, New Town, Kolkata - 700 160, West Bengal

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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/ijmpo.ijmpo_168_17

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Objectives: The aim of the current study was to explore the associations of emotional exhaustion in oncology clinicians and perceptions of doctors about their work–life balance in a developing country. Methods: The current study used quantitative semi-structured interviews and qualitative in-depth interviews to explore emotional exhaustion and burnout in doctors in a tertiary care cancer center. Sociodemographic details, Maslach Burnout Inventory, and Patient Health Questionnaire were used for the quantitative analysis. Results: Increased work pressure (adjusted odds ratio [AOR]: 5.39, 95% confidence interval [CI]: 2.01–14.47, P < 0.01), reduced job-related satisfaction (AOR: 3.56, 95% CI: 1.37–9.25, P < 0.01), being a woman (AOR: 3.4, 95% CI: 1.2–9.5, P < 0.01), and having higher anxiety and depression scores (AOR: 2.89, 95% CI: 1.11–7.46, P = 0.03) were independently associated with higher levels of emotional exhaustion. In the qualitative interviews, many doctors felt working in oncology a satisfying as well as stressful experience. Dealing with palliative and end-of-life situations and counseling patients and their family members about various treatment options contributed to the stress. Male and female clinicians viewed work–life balance differently. Female doctors charted a larger area of influence for which they felt responsible in work and life. Conclusion: Increased work pressure, reduced job satisfaction, and increased affective symptoms contribute to emotional exhaustion in oncology clinicians, and the risk increases especially in female doctors. Having gender-sensitive and employee-friendly policies will likely help in having a nurturing work environment.

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