BMC Med Educ. 2023 Sep 18;23(1):673. doi: 10.1186/s12909-023-04604-7.
BACKGROUND: Academics and clinicians are exposed to significant workload pressures and are at a high risk of stress and burnout.
OBJECTIVES: This study aimed to examine the relationship between burnout and emotional intelligence (EI) by comparing and corelating burnout and EI scores among academics and clinicians against several factors.
METHODS: In this cross-sectional study, academics and clinicians at King Saud University and King Saud University Medical City and Affiliated Hospitals were invited to complete anonymous questionnaires: Maslach Burnout Inventory-Human Services Survey and the Trait Emotional Intelligence Questionnaire Short Form. The collected data were analyzed using the SPSS software for descriptive studies, group comparisons, regression analyses, and Pearson’s (r) correlation tests.
RESULTS: Study participants included 126 individuals (men = 65, 51.6%; women = 61, 48.4%). Of these, 65% were Saudi nationals and 35% were expatriates, and 76 were academics while 50 were clinicians. The mean (minimum to maximum) burnout total score was 55 ± 18.9 (8 to 97) and the global TEIQue-SF score ranged between 2.8 and 6.7 (5.04 ± 0.7). Burnout scores varied between departments and were higher among younger participants and non-Saudis. Age had a small direct correlation with self-control (r = .17, p = .05), and there was no statistically significant correlation with other EI factors. However, there was a moderate inverse correlation between age and emotional exhaustion (EE) (r = -0.33, p < 0.0001), and a small inverse correlation with depersonalization (DP) (r = -0.21, p = 0.02). T-tests demonstrated a statistically significant difference in EI factor “emotionality” among Saudis (5.2 ± .8) and non-Saudis (4.9 ± .8) (t124 = 2.2, p = 0.03), and for burnout subscales, there was a statistically significant difference in DP among Saudis (6.4 ± 4.8) and non-Saudis (8.5 ± 5.6), (p = 0.03). Moderate (r = -0.3, p = 0.01) and weak (r = -0.2, p = 0.05) negative correlations were found between EI factors and burnout subscales (EE, DP).
CONCLUSION: This study confirmed an inverse relationship between burnout and EI scores among academics and clinicians. The findings suggest the need for introducing measures and implementing a system for early detection of burnout among staff and providing support to enhance EI and requisite care for those undergoing burnout episodes.