Aims. The aim was to study the relationship between conscience and burnout among care-providers in older care, exploring the relationship between stress of conscience and burnout, and between perceptions of conscience and burnout.
Background. Everyday work in healthcare presents situations that influence care-providers’ conscience. How care-providers perceive conscience has been shown to be related to stress of conscience (stress related to troubled conscience), and in county council care, an association between stress of conscience and burnout has been found.
Method. A questionnaire study was conducted in municipal housing for older people. A total of 166 care-providers were approached, of which 146 (50 registered nurses and 96 nurses’ aides/enrolled nurses) completed a questionnaire folder containing the stress of conscience questionnaire, the perceptions of conscience questionnaire and the maslach burnout inventory. Multivariate canonical correlation analysis was used to explore relationships.
Result. The relationship between stress of conscience and burnout indicates that experiences of shortcomings and of being exposed to contradictory demands are strongly related to burnout (primarily to emotional exhaustion). The relationship between perceptions of conscience and burnout indicates that a deadened conscience is strongly related to burnout.
Conclusion. Conscience seems to be of importance in relation to burnout, and suppressing conscience may result in a profound loss of wholeness, integrity and harmony in the self.
Relevance to clinical practice. The results from our study could be used to raise awareness of the importance of conscience in care.