The burnout syndrome in palliative home care workers: the role of coping strategies and metacognitive beliefs

Vittorio Lenzo, Federica Indelicato, Elisabetta Grisolia, Mary Ellen Toffle, Maria C. Quattropani


Healthcare professionals are daily confronted with events involving the suffering of others, which are likely to generate highly negative and stressful emotions. In palliative care the emotional commitment is exacerbated by the constant confrontation with the theme of suffering and death. The failure to successfully down-regulate negative emotions is a key risk factor for a severe form of discomfort, known as burnout syndrome. Burnout is a psychological state of exhaustion, related to stress at work. Maslach (1996) describes it as a psychological syndrome of emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, and reduced personal accomplishment. Recent studies have shown that healthcare worker coping strategies may function either as a risk or aprotective factor for the development of distress and emotional problems. Furthermore, other studies highlighted the role of the dimensions of metacognition as vulnerability factors in predicting the development of psychological symptoms. The aim of this study is to examine and assess the relationships between burnout, coping strategies and metacognitive beliefs in workers involved in home palliative care. The hypothesis of the present work is that the appropriate use of positive and flexible coping strategies and functional metacognitive beliefs may relate to the management of distress and emotional problems. A group of operators working in a team of Integrated Home Palliative Care participated in the research.The study was based on a protocol including the Italian version of MCQ-30, used to assess a range of metacognitive beliefs and processes relevant to vulnerability and maintenance of emotional disorders; the Brief Cope (BC) to survey coping strategies; Maslach Burnout Inventory (MBI) to measure burnout. The questionnaire includes a socio-demographical section. The results show the presence of a statistically significant correlation between the variables investigated.


Home palliative care; Burnout; Metacognitions; Coping strategies; Health workers

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