Nursing Sample Paper on Critique of the study by Kent and Laver on Burnout in Nursing

Critique of the study by Kent and Laver on Burnout in Nursing

The Title

The title of the study is burnout in nursing. According to Polit and Beck (2010, p. 89), a title should be within the word limit of 15. The assertion by Polit and Beck is in agreement with this study. The title explains the problem in the study, which is burnout in nursing, but does not specify the population and the sampling area. Overall, the title explains the problem but does not explain to the reader how, where, and to whom the study was carried out. The title is therefore too general and could have been improved a little.  


Polit and Beck (2010, p. 89) state that an abstract should have 100 to 150 words. However, this study uses 256 words, which puts it far much above the required word limit. Nonetheless, the authors subdivide the abstract into several subtitles, including the objective, design, setting, subjects, main outcome measures, results, and outcome measures (Kent & Laver, 2007, p. 43). These subdivisions justify the number of words used and essentially summarize the entire research. The abstract tells the reader the research question, the method used to collect data, the result, and the nursing implications based on the results found. This information is in agreement with Polit and Beck (2010, p. 89) meaning that the abstract sufficiently brings out the summary of the entire study as required.

Researchers Credentials

Patrick Kent and Judy Lavery carried out this study. Kent has studied social sciences up to a doctorate level from a reputable university. Lavery, on the other hand, has studied psychology up to a doctorate level and from a reputable university (Kent & Laver, 2007, p. 43). None of these authors has studied nursing though the subject of study is nursing. Nevertheless, their credentials qualify them to carry out this kind of study. Burnout touches mostly on the behavioral and psychology of nurses, which is the area of authors’ specialization. Also, doctorate degrees in social sciences gives one the know-how in conducting researches in other fields meaning that Patrick Kent and Judy Lavery are qualified to carry out this study.

Problem Statement

The problem statement has been established through the study objective, as well as the introduction. First, researchers in this study acknowledge that some organizational changes have caused some levels of burnout in nurses. They formulate the problem statement whereby they establish that there is a need to assess work and individual characteristics related to burnout levels in nurses. Once these characteristics have been assessed, it will be possible to formulate strategies to reduce burnout in nursing.  

Study Purpose

The purpose of the study has been established in the study objective, as well as, in the main outcome measure. The purpose of this research is to assess burnout levels in members of Victorian ANF nursing community and identify work or individual characteristic associated with it (Kent & Laver, 2007, p. 44).  Polit and Beck (2010, p. 90) state that the study purpose should be clearly to direct the reader in what he or she should be looking at when reading the entire text. In this study, the purpose has been clearly stated and can be identified easily by the reader.

Scope and Delimitation

The scope of the research has been stated in the abstract, introduction, and methodology. The study focused on division one registered nurses and members of Australian Nursing Federation (ANF). For nurses to be registered, they must have completed a minimum of three yeas of practice, and this means the sample population was in line with the study objective.  A total of 2000 nurses were sampled, but only 574 responded (Kent & Laver, 2007, p. 44). Polit and Beck (2010, p. 90) states that the sample population must be large enough to draw credible findings. A sample of 574 is large enough to draw credible conclusions. This means the scope and delimitation of the research are within the standard. However, the cause of low response level needs to be ascertained.

Literature Review

Polit and Beck (2010, p. 89) indicates that substantial information must be provided in line with previous researches in the area currently being investigated. Kent and Lavery have provided a basic understanding of the research, as well as what previous studies have examined. The authors have quoted a range of studies done in the 1990s and 2000s. These studies examined how organizational changes affected works in a hospital setting. The result of these studies pointed out that organizational change contributed to stress-related outcomes. The literature sort points out burnout as the main stress-related outcome. The review of literature further analyzes literature on burnout and how other studies have investigated it in medical institutions (Kent & Laver, 2007, p. 45).

Authors in this study are quick to point out that little has been done to investigate the effects of organizational changes on burnout in medical institutions. They point out studies indicating organizational changes medical institutions in Australia have undergone. The literature further indicates some of the effects pointed out in organizational changes, such as work-family conflict, emotional distress, and role stress. Since these studies indicated the nursing community as the most affected, Kent and Laver have justified, through the review, their choice of nurses in Australia as the most suitable study population. About 20 studies have been consulted in the literature review, and this sets the ground for the study. The large number of studies in the literature review gives the reader sufficient information on the study being investigated.  At the same time, the studies help author justify the study purpose and aim.

Studies touching on effects of organizational changes have highlighted some issues, such as work-family conflict, emotional distress and role stress as resulting from such changes. However, Kent and Laver point out that there is a gap in these studies as none has examined whether organizational changes in Australia has had an effect on burnout in nurses.  This means the research on burnout in nursing is justified. All literature materials reviewed are academic papers and journals written by scholars qualified in various fields. However, some of the studies are not current as they were carried out in the early 1990s. Given that the research was carried out in 2007, there was a need for researchers to limit their literature reviews to papers written within the last decade. Nevertheless, Polit and Beck (2010, p. 93) state that it is possible to use studies written many years before to indicate how the problem has evolved. Also, the fact that latest literature materials have been integrated into the older studies is a testament to the credibility of the study based on Polit and Beck’s assertion. In conclusion, the authors have laid sufficient background using credible studies.

Conceptual Framework

The methodology used does not bring about the conceptual framework clearly, but the data analysis method indicates that comparative analysis has been used. The study conceptualized burnout as a multidimensional syndrome consisting of three components, including emotional exhaustion, reduced personal accomplishment, and depersonalization. Given that data on these three components existed, the study adopted a comparison analysis technique. In this case, the study was designed to bring about data on burnout through a randomized survey. The comparison was made using the available data to indicate if there are some levels of stress beyond the existing data (Kent & Laver, 2007, p. 45). The conceptual framework fits the research design.


Kent and Laver (2007) do not state the research hypothesis because they have designed it to assess the levels of burnout based on comparison with the existing data. A randomized survey methodology was employed and questionnaires mailed to the participants. The study essentially based its design on an existing theory and data and thus there was no need for a hypothesis.

Operational Definitions

An operational definition refers to a concise, clear, and detailed definition of a measure. Researchers in this study have employed operational definitions to a small extent in the methodology section. The sample population has been defined whereby the study has explained ANF registered nurses (Kent & Laver, 2007, p. 46). However, the study fails to define some crucial standard measures appearing in the study. This forces the reader to exert extra effort in understanding them. For instance, the term depersonalization has been used extensively and is one of the units of measure in the study. However, it has not been defined effectively as applied in this context. This means the study falls short of operational definitions.    

Research Design

The study design has been explained in the methodology section. The researchers employed randomized survey methodology. The method is straightforward whereby a random sample was selected from the population targeted (Kent & Laver, 2007, p. 45). However, the methods used to achieve the random sample have not been explained well. The study explains that 2000 questionnaires were mailed to RN nurses but how they were arrived at has not been explained. Perhaps this is the reason the response rate was low; at 29.3%.  This research design has some flaws, mainly low response rate, and the author would have opted to use face-to-face survey. Nevertheless, randomized survey methodology suits this kind of research as the information being sort must apply to a large sample population.    

The Sampling Method

The sampling method is described under the research methodology section. Kent and Laver (2007, p. 45) state that random sampling was used. A sample of 2000 participants was targeted in the sample, but only 574 participants replied. The research does not explain how the target sample was arrived at, but rather states that packaged questionnaires were mailed to all participants (Kent & Laver, 2007, p. 46). Although the questionnaire indicated the age, experience, and hours worked per week, the sampling method did not factor these aspects during the design. However, it can be assumed that the main factor was experience and the sample population was narrowed to RN nurses, whose qualification must be at least three years’ experience. This means that the sampling method was in line with the research design.

Study Setting

The study methodology mentions the setting. The study is set in Victoria, Australia. Study questionnaires were sent to target population through the mail. A specific place and time have not been mentioned in the methodology. Since the information being sort covers a large region, there was no need of setting the study in a specific area.

Data Collection

The study used a questionnaire. The questionnaires were designed based on Maslach Burnout Inventory. According to Maslach, Jackson, and Leiter (1996, p. 87), this scale has 22 items combined to assess three burnout components. Each burnout component was assessed based on a scale of zero to six, and thus it was easy for the target population to respond. Since the credibility of the authors had been established, there is no doubt about the credibility of the questionnaires designed. At the same time, using the Maslach Burnout Inventory, which is a standard scale, makes the study more scientific and standard. This means the information gathered is credible. However, the method used to disseminate the questionnaire is questionable.  Sending questionnaires by mail is not effective, as one cannot tell whether the person filling the questionnaire is the real target. Nevertheless, the method used for data collection is suitable for this study. 

Ethical Considerations

The study does not mention ethical considerations, but the method used has no ethical issues. The design does not reveal the identity of the participants and each participant is protected. Since the study is a scholarly paper published in the Journal of Advanced Nursing, it means it was approved by a review board. Its design minimizes risks and maximizes benefits for participants.

Statistical Analysis Methods

            The study does not directly state the data analysis techniques employed, but the results section contains some of these methods.  The study displayed results in two tables in the first section. The data in these tables indicates mean, standard deviation, and frequency distribution. This indicates that statistical tools such as SPSS or ANOVA might have been used to analyze the data. The second section employed regression analysis (Kent & Laver, 2007, p. 46). Since comparative data was required, regression was the most appropriate method. The study displays statistically analyzed data but does not indicate how the analysis was done. This indicates a situation of applied statistical analysis methods.


The result section is well elaborated and contains statistical data analyzed from the study. The data displayed indicates that nurses interviewed exhibited higher personal accomplishment and lower depersonalization compared to medical, as well as overall normative data. The results further indicated that working overtime correlated positively with depersonalization and emotional exhaustion (Kent & Laver, 2007, p. 46). The study has summarized its findings effectively and displayed it with subthemes to capture the main purpose of the study. The study has presented the finding in various statistical tables. Some information in these tables is complicated to analyze for the audience. However, information has been explained effectively for the reader to understand. In general, the authors have presented the results in a form that can be understood well.  


The discussion section of the study has been used by researchers to explain their study findings. The section has been written in subthemes to bring out the aim of the study. In the first section, the researchers discuss the findings about the aim. They compare the burnout levels of nurses, as established by the finding, with normative data to ascertain variations. The discussion proves that nurses interviewed exhibited higher personal accomplishment and lower depersonalization compared to medical as well as overall normative data (Kent & Laver, 2007, p. 46). The discussion further reveals that depersonalization and lower levels of emotional exhaustions correlated with increasing age and fewer working hours.   The discussion has incorporated findings from other studies, which have been quoted effectively. This means the study effectively discusses the findings by placing the results in line with the study aim.

Study Limitations

Limitations section has been tackled in the discussions. The study points out low response rate to the questionnaires as its limitation. Also, the study points out a “healthy worker effect” as having affected the results. According to Schaufeli and Enzmann (1998, p. 74), responded affected were not at work and those who responded were healthy and unaffected by burnout. This means the results produced might have been skewed.      

Study Recommendations

The researchers do not provide any recommendations for this study. This is an oversight case from them since it would have been appropriate to provide recommendations for further research. The fact that the study has gross limitations means the results is likely to be skewed. As a result, recommendations for further research using a different design and methodology could have been recommended.

Implications of the Study to the Nursing Practice

            Patrick Kent and Judy Lavery (2007) have not provided implications of their study on the nursing practice. However, they provide conclusive ending remarks that indicate some implications for the nursing practice. They indicate that working manageable hours is essential for nurses’ productivity. Depersonalization and emotional exhaustion is associated with pressured or unexpected overtime. This means the management ought to ensure they do not pressure or overwork nurses. Although these implications are drawn from conclusion section, it would have been effective for the authors to provide conclusive implications of this study on the nursing practice. Such implications could have been helpful to nurses and stakeholders reading this study.  


Kent, P., & Laver, J. (2007). Burnout in nursing. Australian Journal of Advanced Nursing, 24(3), 43-48.

Maslach, C., Jackson, S., & Leiter, M. (1996). Mastaeh burnout inventory (3rd ed.). Palo Alto, California: Consulting Psychologists Press Inc.

Polit, D., & Beck, C. (2010). Essentials of nursing research: appraising evidence for nursing practice (7th ed.). Philadelphia: Wolters Kluwer/ Lippincott, Williams and Wilkins.

Schaufeli, W., & Enzmann, D. (1998). The burnout companion to study and practice: a critical analysis. London: Taylor and Francis Ltd.