Factors correlating with burnout in practicing otolaryngologists

Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2012 Feb;146(2):234-9. doi: 10.1177/0194599811428585. Epub 2011 Nov 10.


Objective: This study sought to determine which demographic and practice characteristics were predictive of professional burnout in otolaryngologists.

Study design: Cross-sectional survey.

Setting: Tertiary care hospital.

Subjects and methods: Postal mailings, including the Maslach Burnout Inventory (MBI), were sent to alumni of the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics otolaryngology program. Participants completed the MBI according to the enclosed instructions. In addition, they answered a brief questionnaire comprising 8 items designed to collect demographic information. The MBI was then scored and subjects were classified according to their degree of burnout. Statistical analysis was then performed, and correlations were used to summarize associations between continuous variables.

Results: This study had a response rate of 49% to the survey. Of the respondents, 3.5% met criteria for burnout syndrome, and 16% were classified as having high levels of burnout according to the MBI. Young age, number of hours worked per week, and length of time in practice were found to be statistically significant predictors of burnout. In addition, the length of time married and the presence of children in the home were also significant predictors of burnout.

Conclusion: The authors report an investigation of burnout in practicing otolaryngologists using a validated instrument with correlation to potentially modifiable risk factors. The experience of burnout was found to correlate significantly with both personal and professional factors, each of which can potentially be addressed to curb the incidence of burnout. Further understanding of the potential risk factors for burnout is necessary to minimize and prevent burnout among practicing otolaryngologists.

Keywords: burnout; burnout syndrome; practicing otolaryngologist.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Burnout, Professional / epidemiology*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Occupational Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Otolaryngology*
  • Risk Assessment
  • Risk Factors