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UK obstetric sonographers’ experiences of the COVID-19 pandemic: Burnout, role satisfaction and impact on clinical practice

Skelton, E. ORCID: 0000-0003-0132-7948, Harrison, G. ORCID: 0000-0003-2795-8190, Rutherford, M. , Ayers, S. ORCID: 0000-0002-6153-2460 & Malamateniou, C. ORCID: 0000-0002-2352-8575 (2022). UK obstetric sonographers’ experiences of the COVID-19 pandemic: Burnout, role satisfaction and impact on clinical practice. Ultrasound, doi: 10.1177/1742271x221091716


The COVID-19 pandemic placed additional demands and stressors on UK obstetric sonographers, who were required to balance parent safety and service quality, alongside staff safety. Increased pressure can negatively impact a healthcare worker’s well-being and the provision of person-centred care. The aim of this study was to explore obstetric sonographers’ experiences of performing pregnancy ultrasound scans during the pandemic and to assess the impact on burnout, role satisfaction and clinical practice.

An online, anonymous cross-sectional survey was created to capture sonographers’ experience alongside using the Oldenburg Burnout Inventory to evaluate burnout and Clinical Outcomes in Routine Evaluation 10 (CORE-10) to measure psychological distress.

Responses were received from 138 sonographers. Of those completing the Oldenburg Burnout Inventory (n = 89), 92.1% and 91.0% met the burnout thresholds for exhaustion and disengagement, respectively. Sonographers with a higher burnout score also perceived that COVID-19 had a greater, negative impact on their practice (p < 0.05). The mean CORE-10 score of 14.39 (standard deviation = 7.99) suggests mild psychological distress among respondents. A significant decrease in role satisfaction was reported from before to during the pandemic (p < 0.001), which was associated with higher scores for burnout and psychological distress (p < 0.001). Change in role satisfaction was correlated with sonographers’ perception of safety while scanning during the pandemic (R2 = 0.148, p < 0.001). Sixty-five sonographers (73.9%) reported they were considering leaving the profession, changing their area of practice or working hours within the next 5 years.

Job and context-specific interventions are required to mitigate burnout and its consequences on the workforce and service provision beyond the pandemic.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License ( which permits any use, reproduction and distribution of the work without further permission provided the original work is attributed as specified on the SAGE and Open Access pages (
Publisher Keywords: Burnout, COVID-19, obstetrics, job satisfaction, sonographer, well-being
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
Q Science > QR Microbiology
R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine > RA0421 Public health. Hygiene. Preventive Medicine
R Medicine > RG Gynecology and obstetrics
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Midwifery & Radiography
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Available under License Creative Commons: Attribution International Public License 4.0.

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