Career burnout among pediatric oncologists

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Burnout is a work-related syndrome consisting of emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, and diminished feelings of personal accomplishment. Physicians who care for patients with life-threatening illnesses are at high risk for developing burnout. This survey evaluates the prevalence of burnout among pediatric oncologists, and assesses risk factors associated with the development of burnout.


A questionnaire was sent via email to 1,047 practicing pediatric oncologists. The survey included the 22 question Maslach Burnout Inventory (MBI), as well as questions regarding work-related and lifestyle-related factors associated with developing burnout.


Four hundred ten pediatric oncologists (40%) responded to the survey. Thirty-eight percent of pediatric oncologists had high levels of burnout on the MBI, while 72% had at least moderate levels of burnout. Women (47% vs. 32%, P < 0.004) and physicians practicing for <10 years (50% vs. 33%, P < 0.004) had significantly higher rates of burnout. Physicians who reported satisfaction with their lives outside of work were less likely to have burnout (odds ratio 0.238, 0.143–0.396, P < 0.001). The availability of a forum for debriefing, and services for physicians affected by burnout were both associated with lower rates of burnout (24% vs. 46%, P < 0.001 and 23% vs. 46%, P < 0.001). Thirty-six percent of respondents reported their institution has a forum for debriefing and 40% of respondents reported their institution has services available for physicians experiencing symptoms of burnout.


Approximately three quarters of pediatric oncologists experience burnout. Further research is needed on the effectiveness of interventions aimed at preventing and treating work-related burnout. Pediatr Blood Cancer 2011; 57: 1168–1173. © 2011 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

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