Diagnostic laboratories have faced unprecedented challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic, being under immense pressure to maintain workplace safety while remaining operational and providing the best quality of diagnostic testing. In this study, we analyzed the work system (WS) elements impacting the burnout of three health care professionals (HCPs) working in a COVID-19 testing laboratory. Data collection took place between July and August of 2021 and used surveys to capture the participants’ burnout and job and organizational characteristics. We performed correlation analyses to identify the job and organizational characteristics associated with higher burnout scores and used the Systems Engineering for Patient Safety (SEIPS) framework to analyze the WS elements influencing the burnout of these HCPs. The variables highly correlated with burnout were: physical environment, social support from supervisor, social support from family/friends, control, skill underutilization, role conflict, role ambiguity, intragroup and intergroup conflict, and responsibility for people. Sixty percent of them (role conflict, role ambiguity, intragroup and intergroup conflict, social support from supervisor, and responsibility for people) were part of the organization element of the WS model, likely as a direct consequence of the abrupt and rapidly evolving status of the COVID-19 pandemic, which saw diagnostic laboratories redesigning their workflow, policies, and procedures to introduce adequate guidelines against virus diffusion. Future research will expand the sample size and timeframe of data collection to holistically explore WS design requirements (i.e., systems-based interventions) to prevent burnout of laboratory workers, a very important, and often overlooked, group of HCPs during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationConvergence: Breaking Down Barriers Between Disciplines
Subtitle of host publicationProceedings of the International Conference on Healthcare Systems Ergonomics and Patient Safety, HEPS2022
EditorsMarijke Melles, Armaĝan Albayrak, Richard H M Goossens
Number of pages12
ISBN (Electronic)9783031321986
ISBN (Print)9783031321979, 9783031322006
StatePublished - 2024

Publication series

NameSpringer Series in Design and Innovation
ISSN (Print)2661-8184
ISSN (Electronic)2661-8192


  • Burnout
  • COVID-19 testing
  • Diagnostic laboratory management
  • Work system design

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Urban Studies
  • Management of Technology and Innovation


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