La Trobe

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Who is at risk of burnout? A cross-sectional survey of midwives in a tertiary maternity hospital in Melbourne, Australia

Background: Burnout is an occupational phenomenon with the potential to affect a person's physical and mental health, job satisfaction and quality of work. There is evidence of burnout occurring in the midwifery profession, but inadequate data on the prevalence of, and the factors associated with, burnout. Aim: Identify the prevalence of burnout in a population of midwives and explore what individual and workforce characteristics, and what occupational stressors, were associated with burnout. Methods: A cross-sectional survey of permanently employed midwives was conducted in a tertiary maternity service in Melbourne, Australia in 2017. Data collected included individual and workforce-related characteristics and occupational stressors. Burnout was explored using the Copenhagen Burnout Inventory. Univariate and multivariate analyses were conducted to ascertain associations between respondents’ characteristics, stressors, and burnout levels. Findings: A total of 257/266 midwives (97%) responded. There were significant levels of exhaustion and fatigue among respondents; 68% of midwives were experiencing personal burnout, 51% work-related burnout, and 10% were experiencing client-related burnout. Being aged ≤ 35 years, and/or having inadequate support was associated with personal and work-related burnout. Having inadequate acknowledgement was associated with client-related burnout. Conclusion: Health services need to understand the risk factors for burnout among midwives, identify and support groups that are most vulnerable, and address areas that are amenable to intervention. In our context this means ensuring midwives receive adequate acknowledgement and support, particularly younger midwives. These findings need to be tested in other settings to help inform a broader understanding and ensure the sustainability of the midwifery profession.


Publication Date



Women and Birth






9p. (p. e615-e623)





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© 2022 Published by Elsevier Ltd on behalf of Australian College of Midwives. All rights reserved

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