Article Text

Download PDFPDF
A longitudinal and multicentre study of burnout and error in Irish junior doctors


Background Junior doctors have been found to suffer from high levels of burnout.

Aims To measure burnout in a population of junior doctors in Ireland and identify if: levels of burnout are similar to US medical residents; there is a change in the pattern of burnout during the first year of postgraduate clinical practice; and burnout is associated with self-reported error.

Methods The Maslach Burnout Inventory—Human Services Survey was distributed to Irish junior doctors from five training networks in the last quarter of 2015 when they were approximately 4 months into their first year of clinical practice (time 1), and again 6 months later (time 2). The survey assessed burnout and whether they had made a medical error that had ‘played on (their) mind’.

Results A total of 172 respondents out of 601 (28.6%) completed the questionnaire on both occasions. Irish junior doctors at time 2 were more burned out than a sample of US medical residents (72.6% and 60.3% burned out, respectively; p=0.001). There was a significant increase in emotional exhaustion from time 1 to time 2 (p=0.007). The association between burnout and error was significant at time 2 only (p=0.03). At time 2, of those respondents who were burned out, 81/122 (66.4%) reported making an error. A total of 22/46 (47.8%) of the junior doctors who were not burned out at time 2 reported an error.

Conclusion Current levels of burnout are unsustainable and place the health of both junior doctors and their patients at risk.

  • Health & safety
  • Quality in health care
  • Risk management

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.