Article Text


373 Burnout, a substantial problem in hospital physicians. A multicentre study on its prevalence, determinants and consequences in 37 Belgian Hospitals
  1. S V Vandenbroeck1,
  2. E M Moerenhout2,
  3. M S Sercu2,
  4. H D M De Man2,
  5. H D W De Witte3,
  6. E V Vanbelle3,
  7. L G Godderis1
  1. 1IDEWE/KU Leuven, Heverlee, Belgium
  2. 2IDEWE, External Service for Prevention and Protection at Work, Heverlee, Belgium
  3. 3KU Leuven, Department of Work, Organisational and Personnel Psychology, Leuven, Belgium


Objectives Previous research revealed burnout in one third of the Belgian critical care physicians. Burnout leads to absenteeism, affects quality and safety of care, while work-engagement positively affects personal performance and involvement in the organisation. The aim of this study was to determine the prevalence, determinants and consequences of burnout and work-engagement in a representative sample of Belgian physicians across all medical specialties.

Methods A multi-centre survey was conducted using a 2-phased convenience sample: 1) all general and psychiatric hospitals were invited and 2) an electronic questionnaire was send to all doctors from the participating institutions. The 29-item “Utrechtse Burnout Scale” measured 3 dimensions, “emotional exhaustion (EE)”, “depersonalisation (DP)” and “personal accomplishment (PA)”, scored on a likert-scale (0(never)- 6(always/daily)). Doctors with high EE (mean score>2.50) and high DP (mean score>1.80(men)/>1.60(women)) or low PA (mean score<3.71) were considered at risk. Burnout was defined as high EE and high DP and low PA. The 9-item “Utrechtse Work-Engagement Scale” using a similar likert-scale determined work-engagement (mean score>5). Socio-demographics, theory-based determinants and consequences were measured using validated scales.

Results Thirty-seven hospitals (20%) joined the study and 1198 doctors (47% female, mean age: 43.66) completed the questionnaire. Almost 89% had at least a master-after-master degree and 62% were medical specialists. The most represented specialties were anesthesia-resuscitation (12%), internal medicine (7.3%) and paediatrics (6.8%). Forty percent, 27.9% and 15.3% suffered from EE, DP and low PA respectively. Burnout was detected in 5.4%, 17.8% were at risk and 63% demonstrated high work-engagement. Important burnout determinants were “workload”, “role conflicts” and “emotional strain”. “Autonomy”, “skill utilisation” and “physician-nurse relation” determined work-engagement.

Conclusions A slightly higher number of Belgian doctors suffered from burnout compared to previous studies, yet also showed work-engagement. Further analysis on determinants will be conducted as a base for preventive measures and actions to improve work-engagement.

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