Send to

Choose Destination
Med Educ. 2008 Jul;42(7):721-8. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2923.2008.03041.x.

The relationship between reciprocity and burnout in Dutch medical residents.

Author information

Department of Psychosocial Services, University Medical Centre Groningen, University of Groningen, Groningen, The Netherlands.



This study examined reciprocity in medical residents' relationships with supervisors, fellow residents, nurses and patients, and associations between reciprocity and burnout. Furthermore, we considered if a discrepancy between the perceived and preferred levels of reciprocity influenced the level of burnout complaints.


In 2003, self-report questionnaires were sent to the homes of all 292 medical residents at the University Medical Centre Groningen (UMCG), Groningen, the Netherlands. Reciprocity was measured with a single-item reciprocity scale based on the Hatfield Global Measure of Equity Scale. The Utrecht Burn-Out Scale (UBOS/MBI-HHS) was used to measure burnout.


A total of 158 residents participated in the study. Those who reported under-benefiting in the relationship with supervisors perceived significantly more emotional exhaustion and depersonalisation than those who perceived a reciprocal relationship. Residents who indicated that they over-benefited in the relationship with nurses reported more emotional exhaustion than residents who perceived a reciprocal relationship and less personal accomplishment than residents who perceived a reciprocal relationship or under-benefit. No differences on the burnout subscales were found between residents who perceived their relationships with patients and fellow residents to be reciprocal and those who considered they under- or over-benefited. The greater the discrepancy between perceived and preferred reciprocity in the relationship with the supervisor, the more emotional exhaustion residents reported.


Perceptions of reciprocity in relationships with supervisors and nurses had particular influence on the level of burnout complaints among residents. The discrepancy between the impacts of perceived and preferred reciprocity on burnout was negligible and the only significant relationship to emerge concerned that with emotional exhaustion.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Wiley
Loading ...
Support Center