Burnout is a maladaptive response to work-related stress that is associated with negative consequences for patients, clinicians, and the health care system. Critical care nurses are at especially high risk for burnout. Previous studies of burnout have used survey methods that simultaneously measure risk factors and outcomes of burnout, potentially introducing common method bias.


To evaluate the frequency of burnout and individual and organizational characteristics associated with burnout among critical care nurses across a national integrated health care system using data from an annual survey and methods that avoid common method bias.


A 2017 survey of 2352 critical care nurses from 94 sites. Site-level workplace climate was assessed using 2016 survey data from 2191 critical care nurses.


Overall, one-third of nurses reported burnout, which varied significantly across sites. In multilevel analysis, workplace climate was the strongest predictor of burnout (odds ratio [OR], 2.20; 95% CI, 1.50-3.22). Other significant variables were overall hospital quality (OR, 1.44; 95% CI, 1.05-1.99), urban location (OR, 1.93; 95% CI, 1.09-3.42), and nurse tenure (OR, 2.11; 95% CI, 1.44-3.10). In secondary multivariable analyses, workplace climate subthemes of perceptions of workload and staffing, supervisors and senior leadership, culture of teamwork, and patient experience were each significantly associated with burnout.


Drivers of burnout are varied, yet interventions frequently target only the individual. Results of this study suggest that in efforts to reduce burnout, emphasis should be placed on improving local workplace climate.

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