Burnout, as Defined by the World Health Organization

Burnout is no longer simply a “state of vital exhaustion,” as it was previously described in the World Health Organization’s International Classification of Diseases—the ICD-10.

While the World Health Organization falls short of labeling burnout an outright medical condition, in the updated handbook, the ICD-11, which goes into effect in January of 2022, burnout is now being classified as a “syndrome” and an “occupational phenomenon.”

A statement released on Tuesday by the World Health Organization said, “Burn-out is a syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed. It is characterized by three dimensions: feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion; increased mental distance from one’s job, or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one’s job; and reduced professional efficacy.”

Whatever the definition may or may not be, burnout continues to be a widespread problem in the medical field. The latest numbers estimate that more than 40% of physicians and 40-49% of nurses have reported experiencing burnout.

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