Association between burnout and stigma in physicians

PLoS One. 2023 Apr 5;18(4):e0283556. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0283556. eCollection 2023.


Background: Physicians suffering from burnout are more likely to develop depression, substance dependence, and cardiovascular diseases, which can affect their practices. Stigmatization is a barrier to seeking treatment. This study aimed to understand the complex links between burnout among medical doctors and the perceived stigma.

Methods and findings: Online questionnaires were sent to medical doctors working in five different departments of the Geneva University Hospital. The Maslach Burnout Inventory (MBI) was used to assess burnout. The Stigma of Occupational Stress Scale in Doctors (SOSS-D) was used to measure the three stigma dimensions. Three hundred and eight physicians participated in the survey (response rate: 34%). Physicians with burnout (47%) were more likely to hold stigmatized views. Emotional exhaustion was moderately correlated with perceived structural stigma (r = 0.37, P < .001) and weakly correlated with perceived stigma (r = 0.25, P = 0.011). Depersonalization was weakly correlated with personal stigma (r = 0.23, P = 0.04) and perceived other stigma (r = 0.25, P = 0.018).

Conclusion: These results suggest the need to adjust for existing burnout and stigma management. Further research needs to be conducted on how high burnout and stigmatization impact collective burnout, stigmatization, and treatment delay.

MeSH terms

  • Burnout, Professional* / psychology
  • Burnout, Psychological
  • Emotions
  • Humans
  • Occupational Stress* / psychology
  • Physicians* / psychology
  • Surveys and Questionnaires

Grants and funding

The authors received no specific funding for this work.