A One-Year Institutional View of Resident Physician Burnout

Acad Psychiatry. 2019 Aug;43(4):361-368. doi: 10.1007/s40596-019-01043-9. Epub 2019 Feb 28.


Objectives: This prospective study explores the prevalence, associated characteristics, and trajectory of burnout over one academic year in a multidisciplinary sample of resident physicians using a relatively new burnout survey instrument.

Methods: All residents from a U.S. academic health center (n = 633) were invited to complete the Copenhagen Burnout Inventory (CBI) three times, with 4-month time lags between invitations. A total of 281 (44%) provided complete CBI survey responses at least once, and 43 (7%) did at all three times. Descriptive statistics, cross-sectional analyses, correlations, and multivariable linear regression analyses were computed, as well as repeated measures ANOVAs and paired t tests, as appropriate, for each CBI domain (personal, work, patient-related burnout).

Results: About half had CBI scores indicating moderate-to-high levels of personal burnout (49-52%) and work-related burnout (45-49%), whereas patient-related burnout was less common (14-24%). However, patient-related burnout increased significantly from the beginning to the end of the year. Regression analyses indicated patient-related burnout was significantly higher for postgraduate year 1-2 residents compared to PGY 4+ residents, but was not significantly different by gender. Personal and work burnout scores were significantly higher for females. Persistently high burnout was observed in only 6% of respondents.

Conclusions: In this study of resident physicians using the CBI, burnout was prevalent and higher levels of burnout were observed for females on the personal and work burnout domains, while junior residents had higher patient-related burnout. Persistently, high burnout was rare. The CBI demonstrated high reliability, was practical to administer, and produced similar results with existing burnout research.

Keywords: Burnout; Internship/residency; Prevalence; Survey.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Burnout, Professional / epidemiology*
  • Burnout, Professional / psychology
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Education, Medical, Graduate
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Internship and Residency*
  • Male
  • Physicians / psychology*
  • Prevalence
  • Prospective Studies
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Sex Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires / statistics & numerical data
  • United States