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Grit and burnout in UK doctors: a cross-sectional study across specialties and stages of training
  1. Laura Halliday1,
  2. Abigail Walker2,
  3. Stella Vig3,
  4. John Hines4,
  5. John Brecknell4
  1. 1Department of General Surgery, St George's University Hospital, London, UK
  2. 2Department of ENT Surgery, St George's University Hospital, London, UK
  3. 3Department of Vascular Surgery, Croydon University Hospital, London, UK
  4. 4London Specialty School for Surgery, Health Education South London, London, United Kingdom
  1. Correspondence to Dr Laura Halliday, Department of General Surgery, St George's Hospital, Blackshaw Road, London SW17 0QT, UK; laura.halliday{at}


Purpose of the study Grit is characterised by the ability to persevere during difficulties and maintain a sustained effort over an extended period of time. Throughout their careers, doctors will experience many periods of stress and difficulty. This may result in burnout, defined by the presence of exhaustion and disengagement from work. This study aims to characterise the relationship between grit and burnout in doctors and to establish whether there are differences between specialties and levels of training.

Study design A multicentre cross-sectional survey by questionnaire was used. Participants were recruited from training days and an online medical forum. The survey consisted of the Short Grit Scale and the Oldenburg Burnout Inventory, which examine levels of grit and burnout, respectively.

Results 548 responses were collected. We found a weak negative correlation between grit and burnout in UK doctors (r=−0.243, p<0.001). Hospital consultants had significantly higher grit scores than trainees. The highest level of burnout was found among general practitioners (GPs). When GPs were analysed separately, the correlation between grit and resilience was not seen.

Conclusions An understanding of an individual's level of grit may be used to identify doctors at a greater risk of burnout. As a high level of grit is associated with less burnout, interventions to improve grit through resilience training should be examined. Further research is needed to understand how grit levels change during a doctor's career and why GPs experience higher levels of burnout.

  • grit
  • resilience
  • burnout

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  • Twitter Follow Abigail Walker at @abiwalker24

  • Contributors All authors were involved in designing this study, data analysis and manuscript preparation.

  • Competing interests None.

  • Ethics approval London Postgraduate School of Surgery.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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