Background: New technology adoption is common in health care, but it may elicit frustration if end users are not sufficiently considered in their design or trained in their use. These frustrations may contribute to burnout.
Objective: This study aimed to evaluate and quantify health care workers’ frustration with technology and its relationship with emotional exhaustion, after controlling for measures of work-life integration that may indicate excessive job demands.
Methods: This was a cross-sectional, observational study of health care workers across 31 Michigan hospitals. We used the Safety, Communication, Operational Reliability, and Engagement (SCORE) survey to measure work-life integration and emotional exhaustion among the survey respondents. We used mixed-effects hierarchical linear regression to evaluate the relationship among frustration with technology, other components of work-life integration, and emotional exhaustion, with adjustment for unit and health care worker characteristics.
Results: Of 15,505 respondents, 5065 (32.7%) reported that they experienced frustration with technology on at least 3-5 days per week. Frustration with technology was associated with higher scores for the composite Emotional Exhaustion scale (r=0.35, P<.001) and each individual item on the Emotional Exhaustion scale (r=0.29-0.36, P<.001 for all). Each 10-point increase in the frustration with technology score was associated with a 1.2-point increase (95% CI 1.1-1.4) in emotional exhaustion (both measured on 100-point scales), after adjustment for other work-life integration items and unit and health care worker characteristics.
Conclusions: This study found that frustration with technology and several other markers of work-life integration are independently associated with emotional exhaustion among health care workers. Frustration with technology is common but not ubiquitous among health care workers, and it is one of several work-life integration factors associated with emotional exhaustion. Minimizing frustration with health care technology may be an effective approach in reducing burnout among health care workers.