Risk for Depression, Burnout and Low Quality of Life Among Personnel of a University Hospital in Italy is a Consequence of the Impact One Economic Crisis in the Welfare System?

MG Carta1, A Preti1, *, I Portoghese1, E Pisanu1, D Moro1, M Pintus1, E Pintus1, A Perra1, S D’Oca1, M Atzeni1, M Campagna1, E Fabrici Pascolo2, F Sancassiani1, G Finco1, E D’Aloja1, L Grassi3
1 Department of Health Sciences and Public Health, University of Cagliari, Cagliari, Italy
2 School of Psychiatric Reabilitation Tecnicians, University of Trieste, Trieste, Italy
3 Department of Biomedical and Specialty Surgical Sciences, University of Ferrara, Ferrara, Italy

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© 2017 Carta et al.

open-access license: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Public License (CC-BY 4.0), a copy of which is available at: This license permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the Department of Health Sciences and Public Health, University of Cagliari, Cagliari, Italy; Tel: 0039 070 6093498; E-mails:,



Research literature suggests that burnout, depression, and a low mental quality of life (QOL) are common among health care workers. Economic crisis might have increased the burden of burnout, depression and low QOL in health care workers.


To identify depression risk, burnout levels, and quality of life in a sample of workers of an Italian university hospital.


Cross sectional study with comparison with two community surveys database results (n = 2000 and 1500, respectively). Overall, 522 workers accepted to take part in the study, representing a 78% response rate (out of 669 individuals).


The frequency of positivity at the screener for Major Depressive Disorder among health care workers was more than double than that in the standardized community sample (33.3% vs 14.1%, p<0.0001). All professionals, except the administrative staff and technicians (i.e. those who do not have contact with patients), showed a statistically higher frequency of positivity for depressive episodes compared to the controls. Among the medical staff, the highest risk was found in the surgeon units, while the lowest one was in the laboratories. Surgeons also were those most exposed to high risk of burnout, as measured by the Maslach Burnout Inventory.


Since burnout is linked to patient safety and quality of patient care, and contribute to medical errors, dedicated interventions aimed at reducing poor mental health and low quality of life in medical staff are indicated.

Keywords: Depression, Quality of life, Burnout, Economic crisis, Self-report, Public health.