Stress and burnout in postgraduate dental education

Eur J Dent Educ. 2012 Feb;16(1):35-42. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0579.2011.00715.x. Epub 2011 Oct 10.


Introduction: High levels of stress and burnout have been documented among dental students and practicing dentists, but evidence among dental residents and postgraduate students is lacking.

Materials and methods: Ninety-nine postgraduate students enrolled in clinical, non-clinical and PhD programmes in the Athens University School of Dentistry completed the Graduate Dental Environment Stress (GDES) questionnaire and the Maslach Burnout Inventory. Perceived stress was measured in two domains, academic (GDES-A) and clinical (GDES-C) and burnout was measured using the scales of emotional exhaustion (EE), depersonalisation (DP) and personal accomplishment (PA). Analyses relied on descriptive, univariate and multivariate methods based on ANOVA and generalised linear models.

Results: Participants' mean age was 30 years; two-thirds were women and practised dentistry independently of their graduate studies. Residents in clinical programmes reported significantly higher levels of perceived stress compared to non-clinical and PhD students (P<0.05). There were no gender differences in perceived stress. Forty per cent of respondents were burnout 'cases' on the EE scale, while this proportion was 38% for reduced PA and smaller, 13% for DP. Perceived stress was positively correlated with all burnout dimensions, whereas independent dental practice and higher age had a protective effect.

Conclusions: High rates of burnout manifestations were detected among this sample of Greek postgraduate dental students. Perceived stress correlated with burnout and was more pronounced among those enrolled in clinical residency compared to non-clinical and PhD programmes.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Burnout, Professional / psychology*
  • Depersonalization / psychology
  • Education, Dental, Graduate*
  • Emotions
  • Female
  • Greece
  • Humans
  • Internship and Residency
  • Linear Models
  • Male
  • Students, Dental / psychology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires