Physician burnout and its associated factors: a cross-sectional study in Shanghai

J Occup Health. 2014;56(1):73-83. doi: 10.1539/joh.13-0108-oa. Epub 2014 Jan 16.


Objectives: The aim of this study was to determine the rate of burnout and the contributing factors behind it among physicians in Shanghai.

Methods: In this cross-sectional study, a total of 457 physicians from 21 hospitals in Shanghai completed self-reported questionnaires in June 2008. The Chinese version of the job content questionnaire (C-JCQ) and the Chinese version of the effort-reward imbalance questionnaire (C-ERI) were used to measure occupational stress. The Chinese version of Maslach Burnout Inventory (C-MBI) was used to measure burnout rate. We then performed regression analysis of physician burnout.

Results: The MBI model revealed that 277 physicians (60.6%) were experiencing a mild degree of burnout and that 27 physicians (5.9%) were experiencing a severe degree of burnout. In the assessment of occupational stress, most physicians (64.8%) had a demand/control ratio higher than 1, and 21.9% of all physicians had an effort/reward ratio higher than 1, indicating a high level of occupational stress exposure. Regression analyses showed higher levels of burnout among physicians of younger age, less work experience, longer working hours, on shift duty, or from highergrade hospitals. Both the JCQ and ERI models showed good predictive power for physician burnout, with the ERI model performing better.

Conclusions: Physicians in Shanghai were experiencing a high degree of burnout, which was significantly associated with occupational stress as well as distinctive personal and work characteristics. Interventions aiming at reducing job-related stress can be effective approaches to prevent burnout among physicians.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Distribution
  • Burnout, Professional / epidemiology
  • Burnout, Professional / etiology
  • Burnout, Professional / psychology*
  • China / epidemiology
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Forecasting
  • Health Behavior
  • Hospitals / classification
  • Humans
  • Internal-External Control*
  • Linear Models
  • Male
  • Marital Status
  • Middle Aged
  • Physicians / psychology*
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Regression Analysis
  • Reward
  • Self Report
  • Social Support
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires