Burnout and Work Engagement Among US Dentists

J Patient Saf. 2021 Aug 1;17(5):398-404. doi: 10.1097/PTS.0000000000000355.


Background: Burnout is a threat to patient safety. It relates to emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, and lack of personal accomplishment. Work engagement conversely composed of levels of vigor, dedication, and absorption in one's profession. The aim of this study was to examine burnout and work engagement among US dentists.

Methods: This study used the extensively validated Maslach Burnout Inventory-Human Services Survey and Utrecht Work Engagement Scale to measure burnout in a self-administered survey of 167 US dentists who attended continuing education courses held in Boston, Pittsburg, Iowa City, and Las Vegas. The mean scores on the 3 subscales of Maslach Burnout Inventory-Human Services Survey and Utrecht Work Engagement Scale were computed. The interscale correlations between the components of burnout and work engagement were assessed using Pearson correlations. We used 1-way analysis of variance and independent 2 sample t tests to examine the relationship between burnout and work engagement across sex and various age categories. Prevalence of burnout in our study population was also computed.

Results: We observed that 13.2% of our study population experienced burnout and 16.2% of our study population was highly work engaged. There was a statistically significant, unadjusted association between burnout risk and work engagement (χ2 = 22.51, P < 0.0001). Furthermore, the scores in the subscales of burnout were significantly correlated with scores in the subscales of work engagement.

Conclusions: In this preliminary study, we observed some evidence of burnout among practicing US dentists. It is imperative that the dental profession understands this and works to promote professional practices that increase work engagement and decrease burnout.

MeSH terms

  • Burnout, Professional* / epidemiology
  • Dentists
  • Emotions
  • Humans
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Work Engagement*