Burnout among physicians

Libyan J Med. 2014 Feb 17;9(1):23556. doi: 10.3402/ljm.v9.23556. eCollection 2014.


Burnout is a common syndrome seen in healthcare workers, particularly physicians who are exposed to a high level of stress at work; it includes emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, and low personal accomplishment. Burnout among physicians has garnered significant attention because of the negative impact it renders on patient care and medical personnel. Physicians who had high burnout levels reportedly committed more medical errors. Stress management programs that range from relaxation to cognitive-behavioral and patient-centered therapy have been found to be of utmost significance when it comes to preventing and treating burnout. However, evidence is insufficient to support that stress management programs can help reducing job-related stress beyond the intervention period, and similarly mindfulness-based stress reduction interventions efficiently reduce psychological distress and negative vibes, and encourage empathy while significantly enhancing physicians' quality of life. On the other hand, a few small studies have suggested that Balint sessions can have a promising positive effect in preventing burnout; moreover exercises can reduce anxiety levels and exhaustion symptoms while improving the mental and physical well-being of healthcare workers. Occupational interventions in the work settings can also improve the emotional and work-induced exhaustion. Combining both individual and organizational interventions can have a good impact in reducing burnout scores among physicians; therefore, multidisciplinary actions that include changes in the work environmental factors along with stress management programs that teach people how to cope better with stressful events showed promising solutions to manage burnout. However, until now there have been no rigorous studies to prove this. More interventional research targeting medical students, residents, and practicing physicians are needed in order to improve psychological well-being, professional careers, as well as the quality of care provided to patients.

Keywords: burnout; health care professionals; mindfulness-based stress reduction programs; physicians well-being; stress management.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological*
  • Burnout, Professional / diagnosis
  • Burnout, Professional / psychology
  • Burnout, Professional / therapy*
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy*
  • Empathy
  • Exercise*
  • Humans
  • Job Satisfaction*
  • Medical Errors / prevention & control*
  • Medical Errors / psychology
  • Meditation
  • Mindfulness
  • Organizational Culture
  • Patient Care* / standards
  • Physicians / psychology*
  • Psychoanalytic Therapy*
  • Quality of Health Care
  • Quality of Life*