Introduction: The aim of this study was to determine the prevalence of burnout, and of associated factors, amongst family doctors (FDs) in European countries. Methodology. A cross-sectional survey of FDs was conducted using a custom-designed and validated questionnaire which incorporated the Maslach Burnout Inventory Human Services Survey (MBI-HSS) as well as questions about demographic factors, working experience, health, lifestyle and job satisfaction. MBI-HSS scores were analysed in the three dimensions of emotional exhaustion (EE), depersonalization (DP) and personal accomplishment (PA).
Results: Almost 3500 questionnaires were distributed in 12 European countries, and 1393 were returned to give a response rate of 41%. In terms of burnout, 43% of respondents scored high for EE burnout, 35% for DP and 32% for PA, with 12% scoring high burnout in all three dimensions. Just over one-third of doctors did not score high for burnout in any dimension. High burnout was found to be strongly associated with several of the variables under study, especially those relative to respondents' country of residence and European region, job satisfaction, intention to change job, sick leave utilization, the (ab)use of alcohol, tobacco and psychotropic medication, younger age and male sex.
Conclusions: Burnout seems to be a common problem in FDs across Europe and is associated with personal and workload indicators, and especially job satisfaction, intention to change job and the (ab)use of alcohol, tobacco and medication. The study questionnaire appears to be a valid tool to measure burnout in FDs. Recommendations for employment conditions of FDs and future research are made, and suggestions for improving the instrument are listed.