PDF Zotero Mendeley EndNote BibTex Cite

Burnout, compassion fatigue and suicidal ideation in oncology healthcare professionals

Year 2021, Volume 5, Issue 7, 718 - 723, 01.07.2021


Central to the practice of oncology is the mental and physical resilience of the oncology clinician and the associated care providers. Healthcare professionals working with cancer patients have considerable risk for burnout; however, the mental health of oncology healthcare professionals has received little attention in the literature. The increasingly high rates of burnout and suicide in the field of medical and specifically oncological practice have rendered this area of research in psycho-oncology critical. Oncology presents the practitioner with unique and challenging issues that contribute to burnout, depression and, in some cases, suicide. Working with patients at or nearing the end of life and the administrative and insurance demands they often face in order to obtain needed oncotherapeutic medications, onerous workloads and long working hours, administrative record demands and staying abreast with expanding oncologic knowledge for practice may at times be overwhelming. This work reviews recent research in the field of burnout and compassion fatigue in oncology healthcare workers and posits recommendations for interventions to ameliorate the status quo.


  • 1. Vanderpuye V, Hammad N, Martei Y, Hopman WM, Fundytus A, Sullivan R, et al. Cancer care workforce in Africa: perspectives from a global survey. Infect Agents Cancer. 2019;14(11). doi: 10.1186/s13027-019-0227-8
  • 2. Murali K, Banerjee S. Burnout in oncologists is a serious issue: What can we do about it? Cancer Treatment Reviews. 2018;68:55-61.
  • 3. Parola V, Coelho A, Cardoso D, Sundgren A, Apostolo J. Prevalence of burnout in health professionals working in palliative care: a systematic review. JBI Database System Rev Implement Rep. 2017;15(7):1905-33.
  • 4. Granek L, Krzyzanowska MK, Nakash O, Cohen M, Ariad S, Barbera L, et al. Gender differences in the effect of grief reactions and burnout on emotional distress among clinical oncologists. Cancer. 2016;122(23):3705-14.
  • 5. Kleiner S, Wallace JE. Oncologist burnout and compassion fatigue: investigating time pressure at work as a predictor and the mediating role of work-family conflict. BMC Health Services Research. 2017;17:639. doi: 10.1186/s12913-017-2581-9
  • 6. Chusteczka Z. Oncology Most Stressful of Specialties: High Risk for Burnout. Medscape. 2017.
  • 7. Ghali RR, Boulos DNK, Alorabi M. Cross-Sectional Study of Burnout among a Group of Egyptian Oncologists at Ain Shams University. Research in Oncology, 2018;1-5. doi: 10.21608/resoncol.2018.3478.1056
  • 8. Perez-Fuentes MC, Jurado MM, Linares JJG, Simon-Marquez MM. Analysis of burnout predictors in nursing: risk and protective psychological factors. 2019;11(1):33-40.
  • 9. Cohn KH, Panasuk DB, Holland JC: Workplace burnout, in: Cohn KH (ed): Better Communication for Better Care: Mastering Physician-Administration Collaboration. Chicago, IL, Health Administration Press, 2005, pp 56-62.
  • 10. Piccinini RGG, McRae KD, Becher JW, Hayden AZ, Hentges CB, Kalcec A, et al. Addressing burnout, depression, and suicidal ideation in the osteopathic profession: an approach that spans the physician life cycle. Discussion Paper, National Academy of Medicine, Washington, DC.
  • 11. Yates SW. Physician stress and burnout. Am J Med. 2020;133(2):160-4.
  • 12. Paiva CE, Martins BP, Paiva BSR. Doctor, are you healthy? A cross-sectional investigation of oncologist burnout, depression, and anxiety and an investigation of their associated factors. BMC Cancer. 2018;18:1044. doi: 10.1186/s12885-018-4964-7
  • 13. Patel R S, Sekhri S, Bhimanadham N, et al. (June 03, 2019) A review on strategies to manage physician burnout. Cureus 11(6): e4805. doi: 10.7759/cureus.4805
  • 14. Gardner RL, Cooper E, Haskell J, Harris DA, Poplau S, Kroth PJ, et al. Physician stress and burnout: the impact of health information technology. Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association. 2019;26(2):106–14.
  • 15. McHugh MD, Kutney-Lee A, Cimiotti JP, Sloane DM, Aiken LH. Nurses’ widespread job dissatisfaction, burnout, and frustration with health benefits signal problems for patient care. Health Aff. 2011;30:202-10.
  • 16. Shanafelt TD, Hasan O, Dyrbye L, et al. Changes in burnout and satisfaction with work-life balance in physicians and the general US working population between 2011 and 2014. Mayo Clin Proc. 2015;90:1600-13.
  • 17. Lyndon A. Burnout among health professionals and its effect on patient safety. PS Net: Perspectives on Safety. 2016
  • 18. Ko W, Kiser-Larson N. Stress Levels of Nurses in Oncology Outpatient Units. Clin J Oncol Nursing. 2016;20(2):158-64.
  • 19. Haik J, Brown S, Liran A, Visentin D, Sokolov A, Zilinsky I, et al. Burnout and compassion fatigue: prevalence and associations among Israeli burn clinicians. Neuropsychiatr Dis Treat. 2017;13:1533–40.
  • 20. Shadid A, Shadid AM, Shadid A, et al. Stress, Burnout, and Associated Risk Factors in Medical Students. Cureus. 2020;12(1):e6633. Published 2020 Jan 12. doi: 10.7759/cureus.6633
  • 21. Agha A. Burnout in healthcare professionals. The Endocrinologist. 2018;130:
  • 22. da Costa BRC, Pinto ICJF. Stress, Burnout and Coping in Health Professionals: A Literature Review. J Psychol Brain Stud. 2017;1:1
  • 23. Selye H. Stress and the Generalized Adaptation Syndrome. Br Med J. 1950;1(4667):1383-92.
  • 24. Crevecoeur, G. A system approach to the General Adaptation Syndrome. 2016; 10.13140/RG.2.1.2112.9200.
  • 25. Weintraub AS, Geithner EM, Stroustrup A, Waldman ED. Compassion fatigue, burnout and compassion satisfaction in neonatologists in the US. J Perinatol. 2016 Nov;36(11):1021-1026. doi: 10.1038/jp.2016.121. Epub 2016 Aug 4. PMID: 27490191.
  • 26. van Mol MM, Kompanje EJ, Benoit DD, Bakker J, Nijkamp MD. The Prevalence of Compassion Fatigue and Burnout among Healthcare Professionals in Intensive Care Units: A Systematic Review. PLoS One. 2015 Aug 31;10(8):e0136955. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0136955. PMID: 26322644; PMCID: PMC4554995.
  • 27. Manomenidis G, Kafkia T, Minasidou E, Tasoulis C, Koutra S, Kospantsidou A, et al. Is self-esteem actually the protective factor of nursing burnout? Int. J Caring Sci. 2017:10(3):1348.
  • 28. West, CP, Dyrbye, LN, Shanafelt, TD. Physician burnout: contributors, consequences and solutions. J Intern Med. 2018;283:516–29.
  • 29. de Paiva LC, Canário ACG, de Paiva China ELC, Gonçalves AK. Burnout syndrome in health-care professionals in a university hospital. Clinics (Sao Paulo). 2017;72(5):305–9.
  • 30. Bridgeman PJ, Bridgeman MB, Barone J. Burnout syndrome among healthcare professionals. American Journal of Health-System Pharmacy. 2018;75(3):147–52.
  • 31. Font A, Corti V, Berger R. Burnout in Healthcare Professionals in Oncology. Procedia Economics and Finance. 2015;23:228-32.
  • 32. Gallagher R. Compassion fatigue. Can Fam Physician. 2013;59(3):265-8.
  • 33. Greene AM. The Big Five as predictors of behavioral health professional burnout. Unpublished doctoral dissertation. Walden University. 2017.
  • 34. Banerjee S, Califano R, Corral J, de Azambuja E, De Mattos-Arruda L, Guarneri V, et al. Professional burnout in European young oncologists: results of the European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO) Young Oncologists Committee Burnout Survey. Annals of Oncology. 2017;28(7):1590–6.
  • 35. Shanafelt TD, Raymond M, Horn L, Moynihan T, Collichio F, Chew H, et al. Oncology fellows’ career plans, expectations, and well-being: do fellows know what they are getting into? J Clin Oncol. 2014;32:2991-7.
  • 36. Cass I, Duska LR, Blank SV, Cheng G, DuPont NC, Frederick PJ, et al. Stress and burnout among gynecologic oncologists: A Society of Gynecologic Oncology evidence-based review and recommendations. Gynecologic Oncology. 2016;143:4211-427.
  • 37. Wentzel DL, Brysiewicz P. A survey of compassion satisfaction, burnout and compassion fatigue in nurses practicing in three oncology departments in Durban, South Africa. Int J of Africa Nursing Sci. 2018;8:82-6.
  • 38. Eelen S, Bauwens S, Baillon C, Distelmans W, Jacobs E, Verzelen A. The prevalence of burnout among oncology professionals: oncologists are at risk of developing burnout. Psycho-oncology. 2014; DOI: 10.1002/pon
  • 39. Leland NE, Armstrong M. Compassion Fatigue: a scoping review of the literature. American J Occupational Therapy. 2015;69: doi: 10.5014/ajot.2015.69S1-RP207C
  • 40. El-bar N, Levy A, Wald HS, Biderman A. Compassion fatigue, burnout and compassion satisfaction among family physicians in the Negev area - a cross-sectional study. Israel Journal of Health Policy Research. 2013;2:31. doi: 10.1186/2045-4015-2-31
  • 41. Perregrini M. Combating compassion fatigue. Nursing. 2019;49(2):50–4.
  • 42. Bailey E, Robinson J, McGorry P. Depression and suicide among medical practitioners in Australia. Intern Med J. 2018;48:254-8.
  • 43. Williams ES, Rathert C, Buttigieg SC. The personal and professional consequences of physician burnout: a systematic review of the literature. Medical Care Research and Review. 2019; doi: 10.1177/1077558719856787
  • 44. Wray C, Jarrett S. The relationship between burnout and suicidal ideations among Jamaican police officers. International Journal of Police Science & Management. 2019;21. 146135571985602. doi: 10.1177/1461355719856026
  • 45. Melnyk BM. Burnout, depression and suicide in nurses/clinicians and learners: an urgent call for action to enhance professional well‐being and healthcare safety. Worldviews on Evidence‐Based Nursing. 2020;17:2-5.
  • 46. Dutheil F, Aubert C, Pereira B, Dambrun M, Moustafa F, Mermillod M, et al. Suicide among physicians and health-care workers: A systematic review and meta-analysis. PLoS ONE. 2019;14(12):e0226361
  • 47. Eneroth M, Sendén MG, Løvseth LT, et al. A comparison of risk and protective factors related to suicide ideation among residents and specialists in academic medicine. BMC Public Health. 2014;14:271: doi: 10.1186/1471-2458-14-271
  • 48. Bourne T, Vanderhaegen J, Vranken R, Wynants L, De Cock B, Peters M, et al. Doctors' experiences and their perception of the most stressful aspects of complaints processes in the UK: an analysis of qualitative survey data. BMJ Open. 2016;6:e011711. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2016-011711
  • 49. Daskivich TJ, Jardine DA, Tseng J, Correa R, Stagg BC, Jacob KM et al. Promotion of wellness and mental health awareness among physicians in training: perspective of a national, multispecialty panel of residents and fellows. J of Graduate Med educ. 2015;7(1):143-7.
  • 50. Brooks E, Gendel MH, Early SR, Gundersen DC. When doctors struggle: current stressors and evaluation recommendations for physicians contemplating suicide. Archives of Suicide Research. 2017;22(4): doi: 10.1080/13811118.2017.1372827
  • 51. Albuquerque J, Tulk S. Physician suicide. CMAJ. 2019;191(18): doi: 10.1503/cmaj.181687
  • 52. De la Fuente-Solana EI, Gomez Urquiza JL, Canadas GR, Albendin L. Burnout and its relationship with personality factors in oncology nurses. European Journal of Oncology Nursing. 2017;30:91-6.
  • 53. van der Wal RAB, Bucx MJL, Hendricks JCM, Scheffer GJ, Prins JB. Psychological distress, burnout and personality traits in Dutch anaesthesiologists. A survey. European Journal of Anaesthesiology (EJA). 2016;33(3):179-86.
  • 54. Sharma A, Kashyap N. The influence of the big five personality traits on burnout in medical doctors. Int J of Psych Studies. 2017;9(4): doi: 10.5539/ijps.v9n4p13
  • 55. Wagner R. (2018). Identifying and Reducing Burnout among Healthcare Professionals. Psych Central:
  • 56. Polman R, Borkoles E, Nicholls AR. Type D personality, stress, and symptoms of burnout: The influence of avoidance coping and social support. Brit J of Health Psych. 2010;15(3): doi: 10.1348/135910709X479069
  • 57. Begic S, Weaver JM, McDonald TW. Risk and protective factors for secondary traumatic stress and burnout among home visitors. Journal of Human Behavior in the Social Environment. 2019;29(1):137-59.
  • 58. Molero Jurado MDM, Pérez-Fuentes MDC, Gázquez Linares JJG, Simón Márquez MDM, Martos Martínez Á. Burnout risk and protection factors in certified nursing aides. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health. 2018;15:1116.
  • 59. Baugerud GA, Vangbaek S, Melinder A. Secondary traumatic stress, burnout and compassion satisfaction among Norwegian child protection workers: protective and risk factors. British J of Social Work. 2018;48(1):215–35.
  • 60. Olson K, Kemper KJ, Mahan JD. What factors promote resilience and protect against burnout in first-year pediatric and medicine-pediatric residents? J Evid-based Integ Med. 2015;20(3):192-8.
  • 61. Kumar S. Burnout and doctors: prevalence, prevention and intervention. Healthcare (Basel). 2016;4(3):37.


Primary Language English
Subjects Psychiatry
Journal Section Review

Helena VAN OERS (Primary Author)
Durban Oncology Centre
South Africa

Supporting Institution Durban Oncology Centre
Publication Date July 1, 2021
Published in Issue Year 2021, Volume 5, Issue 7


Bibtex @review { josam796290, journal = {Journal of Surgery and Medicine}, issn = {}, eissn = {2602-2079}, address = {}, publisher = {Fatih BAŞAK}, year = {2021}, volume = {5}, pages = {718 - 723}, doi = {10.28982/josam.796290}, title = {Burnout, compassion fatigue and suicidal ideation in oncology healthcare professionals}, key = {cite}, author = {Van Oers, Helena} }
APA Van Oers, H. (2021). Burnout, compassion fatigue and suicidal ideation in oncology healthcare professionals . Journal of Surgery and Medicine , 5 (7) , 718-723 . DOI: 10.28982/josam.796290
MLA Van Oers, H. "Burnout, compassion fatigue and suicidal ideation in oncology healthcare professionals" . Journal of Surgery and Medicine 5 (2021 ): 718-723 <>
Chicago Van Oers, H. "Burnout, compassion fatigue and suicidal ideation in oncology healthcare professionals". Journal of Surgery and Medicine 5 (2021 ): 718-723
RIS TY - JOUR T1 - Burnout, compassion fatigue and suicidal ideation in oncology healthcare professionals AU - Helena Van Oers Y1 - 2021 PY - 2021 N1 - doi: 10.28982/josam.796290 DO - 10.28982/josam.796290 T2 - Journal of Surgery and Medicine JF - Journal JO - JOR SP - 718 EP - 723 VL - 5 IS - 7 SN - -2602-2079 M3 - doi: 10.28982/josam.796290 UR - Y2 - 2021 ER -
EndNote %0 Journal of Surgery and Medicine Burnout, compassion fatigue and suicidal ideation in oncology healthcare professionals %A Helena Van Oers %T Burnout, compassion fatigue and suicidal ideation in oncology healthcare professionals %D 2021 %J Journal of Surgery and Medicine %P -2602-2079 %V 5 %N 7 %R doi: 10.28982/josam.796290 %U 10.28982/josam.796290
ISNAD Van Oers, Helena . "Burnout, compassion fatigue and suicidal ideation in oncology healthcare professionals". Journal of Surgery and Medicine 5 / 7 (July 2021): 718-723 .
AMA Van Oers H. Burnout, compassion fatigue and suicidal ideation in oncology healthcare professionals. J Surg Med. 2021; 5(7): 718-723.
Vancouver Van Oers H. Burnout, compassion fatigue and suicidal ideation in oncology healthcare professionals. Journal of Surgery and Medicine. 2021; 5(7): 718-723.
IEEE H. Van Oers , "Burnout, compassion fatigue and suicidal ideation in oncology healthcare professionals", Journal of Surgery and Medicine, vol. 5, no. 7, pp. 718-723, Jul. 2021, doi:10.28982/josam.796290

The DNS issue is resolved. and current publication are fully accessible.

To use the submission system properly, please use one of the following browsers, Chrome or Firefox, with the latest updates.
If you experience problems, it may be necessary to clear the browser cache and history; and disable blocker extensions, i.e., uBlock, of the browsers
Mobile phones are not recommended, please use a personal computer.