Objectives: This study aimed to review current knowledge on burnout in medical residents, including reported prevalence rates, and to establish which risk and resistance factors contribute to or prevent burnout in medical residents.
Methods: We conducted a comprehensive search of the literature published between 1975 and 2005, using the Medline, EMBASE (from 1989) and PsychINFO databases.
Results: A total of 19 studies met our inclusion criteria. Only 5 studies appeared to meet more than 2 of the Cochrane quality criteria. The different studies report widely varying burnout rates among medical residents, ranging from 18% to 82%. Predictors of burnout can be characterised as either occupational or individual. Inconsistent results were reported with regard to the effects of some of these factors on burnout. Four of the 16 occupational risk factors appeared to be strongly related to burnout. The 11 individual risk factors examined were only weakly or moderately related to burnout.
Conclusions: Research on burnout among medical residents is scarce. The weak quality of the studies, the wide variety and limited predictive power of the predictor variables included and the inconsistent findings illustrate the need for a more systematic design with regard to future research among medical residents. A future research model should take account of the individual, occupational and training demands experienced by medical residents.