• burnout;
  • Chinese nurses;
  • contributing factors;
  • social support

Aim  The aim of this study was to examine the level of burnout and factors that contribute to burnout in hospital nurses in the People’s Republic of China.

Background  While burnout among hospital nurses has been widely researched in western countries, little research has investigated burnout among hospital nurses in China.

Method  A translated version of the Maslach Burnout Inventory-Human Services Survey was used to measure burnout in 249 randomly selected nurses from various wards of a large teaching hospital in Beijing, China. Questionnaire packs were sent to the hospital wards where selected nurses worked. One hundred and twenty-eight nurses returned the completed questionnaire. The response rate was 51%.

Results  The results showed moderate levels of Emotional Exhaustion and Personal Accomplishment, and low levels of Depersonalization. Age, years of experience and professional title had a significant positive relationship with Emotional Exhaustion and Personal Accomplishment. Older, married nurses with more personal responsibilities and in a more senior position experienced higher levels of Emotional Exhaustion.

Conclusion  The findings suggest that burnout is a significant issue for nurses in China.

Implications for nursing management  The results of this study indicate that working environment factors such as relationships with coworkers and managers may contribute to or mitigate burnout. There is a need to address personal and professional support, life-work balance, personal accomplishment and educational programmes to reduce burnout in nurses working in China.