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Acad Psychiatry. 2008 Jan-Feb;32(1):13-9. doi: 10.1176/appi.ap.32.1.13.

Observations on burnout in family medicine and psychiatry residents.

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Department of Family Medicine, East Tennessee State University College of Medicine, 917 West Walnut Street, Johnson City, TN 37604, USA.



To investigate the relationship between burnout, work environment, and a variety of personal variables, including age, gender, marital, parental and acculturation status within a population of family medicine and psychiatry resident physicians.


Between 2002 and 2005, 155 residents in family medicine and psychiatry at East Tennessee State University College of Medicine were surveyed at intervals using the Maslach Burnout Inventory and Work Environment Scale, form R, to assess their current state of emotional health and job satisfaction.


Female residents had lower scores on the Depersonalization scale of the Maslach Burnout Inventory (t=3.37, p=0.001). Parenting was associated with lower Depersonalization (t=3.98, p<0.001) and Emotional Exhaustion (t=2.59, p=0.011). Residents from the United States culture reported higher Depersonalization and Emotional Exhaustion (t=-3.64, p<0.001; t=-3.85, p<0.001). On the Work Environment Scale, residents from United States culture reported less Task Orientation and Control but higher Work Pressure (t=2.89, p=0.005; t=2.24, p=0.027; t=-2.79, p=0.006). Psychiatry residents reported less burnout than family medicine residents on the Depersonalization and Emotional Exhaustion scales (t=2.49, p=0.014: t=2.05, p=0.042) and higher Physical Comfort on the Work Environment Scale (t=-2.60, p=0.011); while family medicine residents reported higher Peer Cohesion, Supervisor Support, and Autonomy (t=3.41, p=0.001; t=2.38, p=0.019; t=2.27, p=0.025).


This study design, using well established, standard, and valid measures, identified important issues for further exploration: the relationship between acculturation to burnout, the potential role of parenting as a protective factor from burnout, and the recognition that women residents may not be as vulnerable to burnout as previously reported.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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