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Resident physician burnout: insights from a Canadian multispecialty survey
  1. Craig Ferguson,
  2. Gavin Low,
  3. Gillian Shiau
  1. Radiology and Diagnostic Imaging, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
  1. Correspondence to Dr Craig Ferguson, Radiology and Diagnostic Imaging, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB T6G 2R3, Canada; cwfergus{at}


Background Burnout results from chronic exposure to stress: comprising emotional exhaustion (EE), depersonalisation (DP) and a reduced sense of personal achievement (PA). Only a few studies have examined burnout in Canadian residents, and no multispecialty studies using the Maslach Burnout Inventory-Health Sciences Survey (MBI-HSS) exist. The purpose of our study is to identify burnout prevalence, contributory factors and solutions.

Methods A prospective 62-item survey, including the 22-item MBI-HSS, was sent to all Alberta residents, with a resident population of 1745. The association between burnout, EE, DP and PA with items in the survey was performed. Continuous data were evaluated using Student’s t-test or analysis of variance. Ordinal data were evaluated using Spearman’s correlation coefficient and Mann-Whitney U test. Nominal data were evaluated using χ2 test.

Results Response rate was 41.1% (n=718), with burnout prevalence of 69.4%. 61.6% of residents demonstrated high EE, 47.8% high DP and 29.0% low PA. More hours worked, poor work–life balance, poor service-education balance, poor mental health support, experiencing intimidation/harassment and being unhappy with programme and with career choice were associated with higher burnout (p<0.001). 53.5% of residents experienced intimidation/harassment. Solutions to burnout included improved teaching, improved call/working hours, more wellness days and a change in medicine culture.

Conclusion High prevalence of burnout in Canadian residents with contributory factors and solutions identified. We hope programmes across the world can use this information to improve the burden of burnout among residents.

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  • Contributors CF designed the study, disseminated the survey, acquired the data, coded the raw data and wrote the manuscript. GL aided in coding the data, performed all statistics and analyses, and assisted in writing and editing the manuscript. GS was the supervisor for the study and oversaw all work during the process and edited the manuscript.

  • Funding The authors declare that the Professional Association of Resident Physicians of Alberta (PARA) provided a $C2500 bursary to help fund this survey.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Ethics approval This prospective study was approved by the University of Alberta research ethics board.

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

  • Data availability statement Data sharing not applicable as no datasets generated and/or analysed for this study. N/A.

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