Impact of and mitigation measures for burnout in frontline healthcare workers during disasters: A mixed-method systematic review

Nawal Alzailai*, K. Louise Barriball, Andreas Xyrichis

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Background: Burnout is a global concern for the healthcare community, especially following a disaster response. It is a major obstacle to providing safe and quality health care. Avoiding burnout is essential to ensuring adequate healthcare delivery and preventing psychological and physical health problems and errors among healthcare staff. 

Aims: This study aimed to determine the impact of burnout on healthcare staff working on the frontline in a disaster context, including pandemics, epidemics, natural disasters, and man-made disasters; and to identify interventions used to mitigate burnout among those healthcare professionals before, during, or after the disaster. 

Method: A mixed methods systematic review was used and included a joint analysis and synthesis of data from qualitative and quantitative studies. The was guided by the preferred reporting items for systematic review and meta-analyses (PRISMA) of qualitative and quantitative evidence. Several databases were searched, for example, Medline, Embase, PsycINFO, Web of Science, Scopus, and CINAHL. The quality of included studies was assessed using the Mixed Method Appraisal Tool (MMAT), version 2018. 

Results: Twenty-seven studies met the inclusion criteria. Thirteen studies addressed the impact of burnout in relation to disasters and highlighted the association between burnout and the physical or mental well-being of healthcare workers, work performance, and workplace attitude and behavior. Fourteen studies focused on different burnout interventions including psychoeducational interventions, reflection and self-care activities, and administering a pharmacological product. 

Linking Evidence to Action: Stakeholders should consider reducing risk of burnout among healthcare staff as an approach to improving quality and optimizing patient care. The evidence points to reflective and self-care interventions having a more positive effect on reducing burnout than other interventions. However, most of these interventions did not report on long-term effects. Further research needs to be undertaken to assess not only the feasibility and effectiveness but also the sustainability of interventions targeted to mitigate burnout in healthcare workers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)133-141
Number of pages9
JournalWorldviews on Evidence-Based Nursing
Issue number2
Early online date7 Mar 2023
Publication statusPublished - 28 Apr 2023


  • burnout
  • disasters
  • emotional exhaustion
  • healthcare workers
  • impact
  • intervention
  • systematic review


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