Question under study: Over the last decade the Swiss health care system has undergone several changes, resulting in stronger economic constraints, a heavier administrative workload and limited work autonomy for doctors. In this context we examined the change in burnout prevalence over time among Swiss doctors surveyed during this period.
Methods: Cross-sectional survey data collected by mail in 2002, 2004 and 2007 throughout the country were used. Measures included the Maslach Burnout Inventory (MBI), several socio-demographics (gender, living alone, having children), and work-related characteristics (number of years in current workplace, hours worked). Answers to the MBI were used to classify respondents into moderate (high score on either the emotional exhaustion or the depersonalisation/cynicism subscale) and high degree of burnout (scores in the range of burnout in all three scales).
Results: Rates of moderate-degree burnout increased from 33% to 42% among general practitioners (p = 0.002) and from 19% to 34% among paediatricians (p = 0.001) (high degree of burnout: 4% to 6% [p = 0.17] and 2% to 4% [p = 0.42] respectively). After adjustment for significant socio-demographic and work-related characteristics, an increased risk of moderate burnout was found for doctors surveyed in 2004 and 2007 (OR 1.6, 95%CI 1.3 to 2.0), general practitioners (OR 1.6, 95%CI 1.3 to 2.0) and French-speaking doctors (OR 1.5, 95%CI 1.3 to 1.9). An increased risk of high-degree burnout was found only for general practitioners (OR 1.8, 95%CI 1.05 to 3.0).
Conclusions: Burnout levels among Swiss doctors have increased over the last decade, in particular among French-speaking doctors.