Background: Surgeon burnout has implications for patient safety and workforce sustainability. The aim of this study was to establish the prevalence of burnout among surgeons in the UK during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Methods: This cross-sectional online survey was set in the UK National Health Service and involved 601 surgeons across the United Kingdom of all specialities and grades. Participants completed of the Maslach Burnout Inventory and bespoke questionnaire. Outcome measures included emotional exhaustion, depersonalisation and personal accomplishment, as measured by the Maslach Burnout Inventory-Human Services Survey (MBI-HSS).
Results: 142 surgeons reported having contracted COVID-19. Burnout prevalence was particularly high in the emotional exhaustion (57%) and depersonalisation (50%) domains, while lower on the personal accomplishment domain (15%). Burnout prevalence was unrelated to COVID-19 status; however, the greater the perceived impact of COVID-19 on work, the higher the prevalence of emotional exhaustion and depersonalisation. Degree of worry about contracting COVID-19 oneself and degree of worry about family and friends contacting COVID-19 was positively associated with prevalence on all three burnout domains. Across all three domains burnout prevalence was exceptionally high in the Core Trainee 1-2 and Specialty Trainee 1-2 grades.
Conclusions: These findings highlight potential undesirable implications for patient safety arising from surgeon burnout. Moreover, there is a need for ongoing monitoring in addition to an enhanced focus on mental health self-care in surgeon training and the provision of accessible and confidential support for practising surgeons.
Houdmont, J., Daliya, P., Theophilidou, E., Adiamah, A., Hassard, J., Lobo, D. N., & East Midlands Surgical Academic Network (EMSAN) Burnout Study Group. (2022). Burnout Among Surgeons in the UK During the COVID-19 Pandemic: A Cohort Study. World Journal of Surgery, 46(1), 1-9. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00268-021-06351-6