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Oncologist. 2019 Jul;24(7):e480-e489. doi: 10.1634/theoncologist.2018-0249. Epub 2018 Dec 19.

Prevalence of Burnout and Career Satisfaction Among Oncologists in China: A National Survey.

Author information

1
Department of Medical Oncology, Sun Yat-sen University Cancer Centre; State Key Laboratory of Oncology in South China; Collaborative Innovation Centre for Cancer Medicine, Guangzhou, People's Republic of China.
2
Department of Cancer Research, Sun Yat-sen University Cancer Centre; State Key Laboratory of Oncology in South China; Collaborative Innovation Centre for Cancer Medicine, Guangzhou, People's Republic of China.
3
Department of Medical Oncology, Sun Yat-sen University Cancer Centre; State Key Laboratory of Oncology in South China; Collaborative Innovation Centre for Cancer Medicine, Guangzhou, People's Republic of China zhangli6@mail.sysu.edu.cn.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Burnout and career satisfaction has been extensively studied among U.S. and European oncologists, although little is known about the situation among Chinese oncologists. Therefore, we conducted this national survey to investigate the prevalence of burnout and career satisfaction among Chinese oncologists.

PATIENTS AND METHODS:

Between September 2015 and December 2016, a cross-sectional field survey was conducted through the Chinese Society of Clinical Oncology and the Chinese Committee of Rehabilitation and Palliative Care. The full-length survey consisted of 59 questions investigating personal and professional characteristics and standardized instruments to measure burnout (Maslach Burnout Inventory-Human Service Survey) and career satisfaction. An additional six questions, derived from the National Survey on the Practice of Medicine by Chinese Physicians related to burnout or career satisfaction, were also included.

RESULTS:

In total, 3,500 oncologists received the questionnaire, and 2,700 (77.1%) responded, of whom 1,620 (46.3%) were eligible for analysis (median age, 36 years; 56.1% male). Overall, 827 oncologists (51.0%) were burned out. Five factors (lower curative rate of patients, more hours devoted to patient care, more nights on call per week, fewer minutes allocated for return outpatient visits, and more weekends rounding per year) were associated with burnout. Meanwhile, burnout was also strongly associated with a negative view of the physician-patient relationship (p < .001; odds ratio [OR], 2.07). Notably, the career satisfaction (34.4% for career and 52.1% for specialty) of Chinese oncologists was far less than U.S. colleagues, which may result from low compensation (p < .001; OR, 1.660).

CONCLUSION:

The overall prevalence of burnout among oncologists in China was similar to oncologists in the U.S., whereas personal accomplishment and career satisfaction were lower. Interestingly, the reasons were different. Beside high workload, the low curative rate of patients was found to be another factor associated with Chinese physicians' burnout. The ongoing Chinese health care system reform may improve the current situation.

IMPLICATIONS FOR PRACTICE:

Burnout and career satisfaction has been extensively studied among physicians and oncologists in the U.S. and Europe, but little is known about the situation among Chinese oncologists. This study is the first large-scale national study of Chinese oncologists using standardized instruments to evaluate burnout and career satisfaction. The experience of burnout has been linked to a long list of negative implications. However, this issue has not aroused enough concern in China until now. This study may have a vital significance for the ongoing Chinese health care reform aiming to improve the Chinese health care system.

KEYWORDS:

Burnout; Career satisfaction; China; Maslach Burnout Inventory‐Human Service Survey; Oncologist

Conflict of interest statement

Disclosures of potential conflicts of interest may be found at the end of this article.

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