Since the initial outbreak of COVID-19, health professionals-both clinical health care, as well as public health concentrations-have faced tremendous pressures. A growing body of literature indicates the pandemic has magnified already prevalent burnout rates among clinical health professionals and to what extent for public health professionals remains to be determined. This study purpose is to conduct a systematic review of literature examining burnout prevalence among public health professionals before and during the COVID-19 pandemic-nationally and internationally-with identification of potential risk factors. We conducted a literature search in PubMed, EMBASE, PsycINFO, SocINDEX, and ClinicalKey since inception through April 4, 2023. Inclusion criteria included peer-reviewed, original research studies (qualitative or quantitative), in English, assessing prevalence of, or risk factors for, burnout in public health professionals. Two authors independently screened abstracts, titles, full report of studies and abstracted data related to burnout. This review was conducted using Joanna Briggs Institute Systematic Reviews guidelines and Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses guidelines with narrative synthesis. Protocol for this review registered on PROSPERO (CRD42023424468). Of 3327 health-related articles mentioning burnout, 15 met inclusion criteria (11 quantitative and 4 qualitative) with 10 in international settings and 5 in US majority of quantitative studies were from international settings and only 1 in United States. Seventy-eight percent of studies that included prevalence data, exhibited a burnout prevalence greater than 50% (with a range of 19%-81%). The pandemic likely heightened (13% increase) already elevated burnout prevalence. Major risk factors identified included overwork, lack of support, changing roles, and full-time employment status, though many risk factors had not been studied in the United States. Burnout is prevalent among public health professionals, nationally and internationally, and likely heightened by the COVID-19 pandemic. More research is warranted assessing burnout among differing public health concentrations and interventions developed. Public health is an essential framework for protecting and promoting health nationally and internationally, and we need to ensure and support solidity of that framework.

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