Feelin’ the Burnout: The Current Experience of Burnout Among Professional Neuropsychologists

Rachel Murley, Palo Alto University, Palo Alto, United States
Ashlynn Steinbaugh, Palo Alto University, Palo Alto, United States
Bradley Forbes, Palo Alto University, Palo Alto, United States
Alexandra Rousseau, Palo Alto University, Palo Alto, United States
Haig Pilavjian, Palo Alto University, Palo Alto, United States
Daniel Baldini, Palo Alto University, Palo Alto, United States
Julius Flowers, Palo Alto University, Palo Alto, United States
Michael Ellis-Stockley, Palo Alto University, Palo Alto, United States
Rayna Hirst, Palo Alto University, Palo Alto, United States


Burnout (physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion) and self-care to prevent it are increasingly important for service professionals (Trockel et al., 2017). Healthcare professionals experience higher burnout and job dissatisfaction, which may contribute to reduced quality of care, poor patient outcomes, and life dissatisfaction (Shanafelt et al., 2015). No prior studies examined burnout in neuropsychologists; therefore, this study measured neuropsychologists’ burnout prevalence to inform preventative and intervention measures.

Participants and Methods:

Neuropsychologists (n = 302, 82% female, 83% White, mean age = 41.82, mean years experience = 9.31) completed a demographic and occupational survey and the Copenhagen Burnout Inventory (CBI; Borritz & Kristensen, 2004). Burnout questions measured personal, work, and patient/client burnout using Likert-type scales (e.g., 100 = Always, Never = 0). CBI scores ranged from 0-100, divided into increments of 25, with higher scores indicating more burnout (Walters et al. 2018). An overall burnout variable comprised the three burnout types, with a scale ranging from 0-300. One-way multivariate analysis of variance (MANOVA) and chi-square tests compared subspecialties (pediatrics [25%], adult [19%], geriatrics [36%], and lifespan [20%]) on demographic and occupational information. One-way multivariate analysis of covariance (MANCOVA) examined subspecialty differences in burnout. Pearson bivariate correlations assessed the relationships between demographics, occupational data, and burnout.


Overall burnout among participants was moderate (mean = 142, SD = 53.9; Walters et al., 2018). Further, personal (n = 292, mean = 52.8 . SD = 18.9) and work burnout (n = 294, mean = 52.0, SD = 21.0) were moderate, while scores were lower for patient/client burnout (n = 287, mean = 37.0, SD = 20.2). These results are similar to a study of social workers showing mean burnout scores of 52.01 for work, 57.89 for personal, and 31.97 for client (Walters et al., 2018). The subspecialties differed in age and years of experience (ps < 0.05), which were included as covariates in subsequent analyses. A MANCOVA revealed no difference in overall burnout between the subspecialties when controlling for age and experience (F(9, 674 = 0.755, p = 0.66, Wilks' Λ = 0.976, partial η2 = 0.008). Overall burnout levels negatively correlated with older age (r(289) = -0.206, p = 0.00), years of experience (r(285) = -0.247, p = 0.00), and years in current position (r(288) = -0.170, p = 0.004).


Findings indicate a moderate overall level of burnout among neuropsychologists. Results suggest comparable levels of personal and work burnout and higher levels of client burnout among neuropsychologists relative to social workers (Walters et al., 2018). Results showed no differences in overall burnout between the subspecialties, suggesting that no subspecialty is significantly more or less vulnerable to burnout. However, findings indicate that younger individuals with less experience or less time in their position are more likely to experience greater burnout. Therefore, emphasis on early intervention and preventative care (e.g., support from mentors and co-workers, self-care, mindfulness, and maintaining a healthy lifestyle) for less experienced neuropsychologists is essential for maintaining quality patient care.

Category: Career Development/Education/Training

Keyword 1: self-report
Keyword 2: vocation