Burnout and coping amongst anesthesiologists in a US metropolitan area: a pilot study

Middle East J Anaesthesiol. 2012 Feb;21(4):529-34.


Background: Anesthesiology is technically complex, caring for sicker patients with growing production pressure on clinicians. Wellbeing and a balanced lifestyle to prevent clinician burnout and improve patient safety have been increasingly recognized. This study assesses burnout and coping strategies in anesthesiologists in a metropolitan area of the Northeastern US.

Methods: An anonymous online questionnaire including the Maslach Burnout Inventory and assessment of coping strategies was distributed via email to Boston area anesthesiologists. Correlations between burnout, demographic variables, and coping strategies were examined.

Results: Of 57 respondents to the survey, moderate to high degrees of burnout were found (61.4% emotional exhaustion, 31.6% depersonalization, 64.9% low personal achievement) and associated with avoidant and emotion-focused coping behaviors. Significant relationships existed between burnout and demographics including age, number of years in practice, perceived workload, and academic versus private practice.

Conclusions: Burnout by anesthesiologists in this study is mainly characterized by emotional exhaustion and low personal achievement. An association with severe workload, young age, and moderate number of years in practice (5-15 years) was found. Positive coping strategies which involved planning and reassessment of stressors as a source of personal growth were utilized by older, more experienced and less burned out anesthesiologists.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological*
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Anesthesiology / statistics & numerical data*
  • Boston / epidemiology
  • Burnout, Professional / epidemiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pilot Projects
  • Professional Practice / statistics & numerical data
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Time Factors
  • Workload / statistics & numerical data*