Is burnout affecting life satisfaction in oncologists? The moderating role of family concerns in an Italian sample

Psychooncology. 2021 Mar;30(3):385-391. doi: 10.1002/pon.5589. Epub 2020 Nov 13.


Objective: Burnout may represent a significant source of distress in health care professionals. Many studies have reported its negative effect on career satisfaction and personal life. The aim of the present study was to investigate the relation between burnout and life satisfaction in a large sample of Italian oncologists.

Methods: An online survey was conducted of 14.5% of the Italian oncologists' population (n = 533) using Copenhagen Burnout Inventory, Satisfaction with Life Scale and additional questions exploring professional and personal factors. Moderated regression analysis was carried out to explore how burnout may relate to life satisfaction.

Results: One out of 10 (10.5%) oncologists showed significant burnout symptoms, whereas 1 out of 3 (33.8%) reported being at least slightly dissatisfied with their own life. Family concerns significantly moderated the relationship between burnout and life satisfaction. Men and chiefs of cancer units or departments showed lower rates of burnout and life dissatisfaction than women and other oncologists, respectively.

Conclusions: Reported results are in line with existing data about a limited burnout prevalence in Italian oncologists. We discuss the potential role of gender inequality in explaining our findings. The present study suggests that family concerns may be considered a risk factor for both burnout and life dissatisfaction in oncologists.

Keywords: burnout; cancer; family; life satisfaction; oncology; psycho-oncology.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Burnout, Professional / epidemiology
  • Burnout, Professional / psychology*
  • Burnout, Psychological*
  • Emotions
  • Family
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Italy
  • Job Satisfaction
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Oncologists / psychology*
  • Personal Satisfaction*
  • Prevalence
  • Surveys and Questionnaires