Systematic review: factors contributing to burnout in dentistry

Occup Med (Lond). 2016 Jan;66(1):27-31. doi: 10.1093/occmed/kqv119. Epub 2015 Oct 5.


Background: Dentists and dental students have been reported to be at high risk of burnout and risk factors have been identified. Despite research into burnout in dentists, only a few papers have identified significantly associated factors.

Aims: To identify the most significant factors associated with burnout in dentists and dental students in published literature.

Methods: We systematically searched MEDLINE, EMBASE and HMIC electronic databases to source literature on the factors associated with burnout in dentists. We critically appraised and themed papers using the Critical Appraisal Skills Programme to find the most significant factors.

Results: From 115 studies identified by the search string, we deemed 33 papers to be relevant for review. The most prevalent and significant factors associated with burnout were: younger age, male gender, student status, high job-strain/working hours, those enrolled in clinical degree programmes and certain personality types. However, only a limited amount of literature explored the directional relationship between these factors and burnout.

Conclusions: This review identified several significant factors contributing to burnout in dentists and dental students. Further longitudinal and prospective studies are required to assess causation. Burnout should be considered a multifactorial phenomenon that can develop early in a dental career. Screening programmes and coping strategies might help to identify and prevent it.

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

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Burnout, Professional / etiology*
  • Dentistry*
  • Dentists / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Job Satisfaction
  • Male
  • Personality
  • Students, Dental / psychology*
  • Workload