What are the significant factors associated with burnout in doctors?

Occup Med (Lond). 2015 Mar;65(2):117-21. doi: 10.1093/occmed/kqu144. Epub 2014 Oct 16.


Background: Burnout syndrome is well established as a condition that affects a significant proportion of practising doctors. Although much literature exists on the prevalence of burnout, only specific variables associated with this condition have been analysed.

Aims: To identify and categorize key factors that are associated with burnout across various medical specialities and geographical locations.

Methods: Three electronic databases were searched for literature on the factors associated with burnout published in the past 5 years. Inclusion and exclusion criteria were applied in three stages. We analysed and critically appraised each paper individually, identifying the common themes.

Results: Forty-seven papers were included from the 395 identified by our primary search. Younger age, female sex, negative marital status, long working hours and low reported job satisfaction were found to be predictive of burnout syndrome across the literature. Participation in 'wellness programmes' was related to lower burnout incidence. Causation could not be established however, due to the limited number of longitudinal studies.

Conclusions: More prospective studies are required to assess causation. Despite this, our thematic analysis revealed consistent findings across many papers. This information can be used to inform prevention and interventions to tackle burnout. The associated factors should not be addressed individually, as they are inter-related.

Keywords: Burnout; depersonalization; doctors; emotional exhaustion; personal accomplishment..

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Burnout, Professional / epidemiology
  • Burnout, Professional / etiology*
  • Burnout, Professional / psychology
  • Databases, Factual
  • Humans
  • Job Satisfaction
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Marital Status / statistics & numerical data
  • Physicians / psychology*
  • Physicians / statistics & numerical data
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors
  • Stress, Psychological / epidemiology
  • Stress, Psychological / etiology*
  • Stress, Psychological / psychology
  • Workload / psychology*