One in three doctors in the UK who are working in obstetrics and gynaecology, suffer workplace burnout, suggest the findings of research published in the BMJ Open.
The nationwide online cross-sectional survey study was carried out between December 2017 and March 2018, and included practising obstetrics and gynaecology consultants, specialty and associate specialist doctors, and trainees registered with the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists.
A total of 3,073 respondents met the inclusion criteria (1,462 consultants, 1,357 trainees and 254 specialty and associate specialist doctors).
Approximately 36 per cent (n=1,116)of doctors met burnout criteria according to the Maslach Burnout Inventory. The levels were highest among trainees (43%).
A quarter (23%) of doctors with burnout reported increased defensive practice (avoiding cases or procedures, overprescribing, over- referral) compared with 7 per cent in those without burnout (adjusted odds ratio [OR] 4.35; 95% CI 3.46-5.49).
Burnout was associated with significantly increased risks of anxiety (OR 3.59; 95% CI 3.07-4.21), depression (OR 4.05; 95% CI 3.26-5.04) and suicidal thoughts (OR 6.37; 95% CI 3.95-10.7).
In multivariable logistic regression, being of younger age, white or ‘other’ ethnicity, and graduating with a medical degree from the UK or Ireland had the strongest associations with burnout.
Commenting on the findings, Professor Tom Bourne, lead author of the research from Imperial College London, said the results are “very worrying”.
“These results point to an environment in UK hospitals that makes staff unwell and less able to carry out their jobs safely. There is a clear need to address both the workplace and culture,” he said.