Burnout in medical students before residency: A systematic review and meta-analysis

Eur Psychiatry. 2019 Jan;55:36-42. doi: 10.1016/j.eurpsy.2018.08.006. Epub 2018 Oct 29.


Background: Applying the concept of burnout to medical students before residency is relatively recent. Its estimated prevalence varies significantly between studies. Our objective was to estimate the prevalence of burnout in medical students worldwide.

Methods: We systematically searched Medline for English-language articles published between January 1, 2010 and December 31, 2017. We selected all the original studies about the prevalence of burnout in medical students before residency, using validated questionnaires for burnout. Statistical analyses were conducted using the OpenMetaAnalyst software.

Results: Prevalence of current burnout was extracted from 24 studies encompassing 17,431 medical students. Among them, 8060 suffered from burnout and we estimated the prevalence to be 44.2% [33.4%-55.0%]. The information about the prevalence of each subset of burnout dimensions was given in nine studies including 7588 students. Current prevalence was estimated to be 40.8% for 'emotional exhaustion' [32.8%-48.9%], 35.1% [27.2%-43.0%] for 'depersonalization' and 27.4% [20.5%-34.3%] for 'personal accomplishment'. There is no significant gender difference in burnout. The prevalence of burnout is slightly different across countries with a higher prevalence in Oceania and the Middle East than in other continents.

Conclusions: The results of this meta-analysis suggest that one student out of two is suffering from burnout, even before residency. Again, our findings highlight the high level of distress in the medical population. These results should encourage the development of preventive strategies.

Keywords: Anxiety; Burnout; Depression; Exhaustion; Professional; Undergraduate.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Burnout, Psychological* / epidemiology
  • Burnout, Psychological* / etiology
  • Burnout, Psychological* / prevention & control
  • Burnout, Psychological* / psychology
  • Emotions
  • Humans
  • Internship and Residency*
  • Prevalence
  • Sex Factors
  • Students, Medical / psychology*