Open Access Research article

Hardy personality and burnout syndrome among nursing students in three Brazilian universities—an analytic study

Rodrigo Marques da Silva1, Carolina Tonini Goulart1, Luis Felipe Dias Lopes2, Patrícia Maria Serrano3, Ana Lucia Siqueira Costa4 and Laura de Azevedo Guido1*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Nursing, Federal University of Santa Maria, 78 Fioravante Antonio Spiazzi St., Zip: 97095-180 Santa Maria, Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil

2 Department of Administration, Federal University of Santa Maria, Santa Maria, Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil

3 Department of Nursing, Paulista University (UNIP), Sorocaba, São Paulo, Brazil

4 Medical-Surgical Nursing Department, Nursing School of the University of São Paulo (EEUSP), Sao Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil

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BMC Nursing 2014, 13:9  doi:10.1186/1472-6955-13-9

Published: 30 March 2014



Nursing students may exhibit the characteristics of resistance to stress, such as hardiness, which can reduce the risk of burnout. However, we found only one published study about these phenomena among nursing students. Thus, we investigated the association between hardiness and burnout in such students.


An analytic, cross-sectional study was conducted among 570 nursing students from three Brazilian universities. Data were collected relating to sociodemographic characteristics, hardiness, and burnout, which we analyzed using inferential statistics.


We observed that 64.04% of nursing students in the sample had a high level of emotional exhaustion, 35.79% had a high level of cynicism, and 87.72% had a low level of professional efficacy: these are dimensions of burnout. We also found that 48.77% had a high level of control, 61.40% a high level of commitment, and 35.44% a high level of challenge: these are dimensions of hardiness. Only 24.74% of the students experienced burnout, and 21.93% met the criteria for a hardy personality. There was a statistically significant difference between the frequency of hardiness and burnout (p = 0.033), with 68.00% of hardy students not exhibiting burnout.


Although nursing students live with educational stressors, burnout was not preponderant in our sample students; this may be linked to hardiness. Thus, given its benefits to student life and health, we recommend the development of strategies to promote hardiness among nursing students.

Burnout; Nursing; Nursing education; Students; Stress; Psychological adaptation; Professional burnout