Insomnia and sleep quality among primary care physicians with low and high burnout levels

J Psychosom Res. 2008 Apr;64(4):435-42. doi: 10.1016/j.jpsychores.2007.10.014.


Objective: The aim of this study was to assess insomnia and sleep quality in primary care physicians with low and high burnout scores.

Methods: A representative sample of 240 physicians was drawn from 70 medical centers in Madrid, Spain. Based on quartile splits of the overall index of the Shirom-Melamed Burnout Questionnaire, 55 participants were allocated to a low-burnout group, and 58 were included in a high-burnout group. The questionnaire also included sociodemographic data, insomnia symptomatology, and the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index.

Results: Of the total sample, 18.8% met Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition criteria for insomnia diagnoses. More individuals with high burnout scores (21.1%) than individuals with low burnout scores (6.9%) fulfilled these criteria. Results of multivariate logistic regression analyses showed that burnout was the only variable related to insomnia diagnoses (odds ratio=7.56; 95% confidence interval=2.38-14.02). Furthermore, the results of multivariate analysis of covariance, after adjustments for sociodemographic variables, indicated that subjects from the high-burnout group scored significantly higher than subjects from the low-burnout group on the global sleep quality index and its components, indicating significantly greater disturbed sleep for the former.

Conclusion: The results of the present study provide support for a clear relationship between burnout and disturbed sleep, as shown by the high prevalence of insomnia and poor sleep quality among physicians with high levels of burnout.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Burnout, Professional / epidemiology
  • Burnout, Professional / psychology*
  • Comorbidity
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Physician Impairment / psychology*
  • Physician Impairment / statistics & numerical data
  • Physicians, Family / psychology*
  • Physicians, Family / statistics & numerical data
  • Sleep Deprivation / epidemiology
  • Sleep Deprivation / psychology*
  • Sleep Initiation and Maintenance Disorders / epidemiology
  • Sleep Initiation and Maintenance Disorders / psychology*
  • Spain
  • Statistics as Topic
  • Surveys and Questionnaires