Grit and burnout in UK doctors: a cross-sectional study across specialties and stages of training

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Abstract

Purpose of the study

Grit is characterised by the ability to persevere during difficulties and maintain a sustained effort over an extended period of time. Throughout their careers, doctors will experience many periods of stress and difficulty. This may result in burnout, defined by the presence of exhaustion and disengagement from work. This study aims to characterise the relationship between grit and burnout in doctors and to establish whether there are differences between specialties and levels of training.

Study design

A multicentre cross-sectional survey by questionnaire was used. Participants were recruited from training days and an online medical forum. The survey consisted of the Short Grit Scale and the Oldenburg Burnout Inventory, which examine levels of grit and burnout, respectively.

Results

548 responses were collected. We found a weak negative correlation between grit and burnout in UK doctors (r=−0.243, p<0.001). Hospital consultants had significantly higher grit scores than trainees. The highest level of burnout was found among general practitioners (GPs). When GPs were analysed separately, the correlation between grit and resilience was not seen.

Conclusions

An understanding of an individual's level of grit may be used to identify doctors at a greater risk of burnout. As a high level of grit is associated with less burnout, interventions to improve grit through resilience training should be examined. Further research is needed to understand how grit levels change during a doctor's career and why GPs experience higher levels of burnout.

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