Burnout among dermatologists in France has been attributed to the number of hours worked per week, the increasing frequency of verbal and physical aggression in some patients, and the feeling of being insufficiently compensated. Burnout was somewhat mitigated by playing sports or having a secretary. These are among the study findings published in a letter to the editor at the Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology.
Researchers for the French Federation for Continuing Education in Dermatology and Venereology which federates more than 2800 practicing dermatologists sought to investigate the prevalence, risk, and mitigating factors of burnout among dermatologists in France.
They conducted a survey by digital questionnaire which included daily working time, exercise modalities, year of thesis, the Maslach Burnout Inventory (MBI), along with personal characteristics including sex, religious practice, sports activities, marital status, and number of dependents. Of the 650 dermatologists who responded to the questionnaire, 577 could be evaluated having completed the MBI. It was not reported how many dermatologists originally received the questionnaire.
Among the respondents, burnout was reported by 47.8% (95% CI, 43.7-51.9) of whom 3% reported severe burnout, 15.6% reported moderate burnout, and 29.3% reported mild burnout, respectively. Respondents were 81% women, 78.2% self-employed, and 62.7% reported at least 1 encounter with patients who were aggressive. Slightly more than two-thirds of respondents reported more than 20 years of practice, and more than 70% reported working more than 35 hours per week.
More than 49% of women dermatologists were “in a burnout situation,” and slightly more than 40% of men dermatologists were in burnout, the difference lacking statistical significance. Researchers noted that 46% of dermatologists with a secretary reported burnout, and those without a secretary, more than 63% (P <.03). They found practicing dermatologists who worked more than 35 hours per week reported 51% burnout vs practicing dermatologists who worked less than 35 hours per week, who reported 40% burnout (P <.005). They found no statistical significance attached to the number of days worked or the specific type of activity performed at work.
Practicing dermatologists satisfied with remuneration reported 37.8% burnout, those moderately satisfied 47.1%, and those not satisfied 68.6%, respectively. A third of practicing dermatologists not confronted with aggressive patients reported burnout, while 36.5% of practicing dermatologists confronted once and 55.5% of practicing dermatologists confronted multiple times reported burnout.
The development of burnout was attenuated by sports activities as 42.9% burnout was noted among those who actively participated and 61.4% burnout was seen in those not participating in sports activities (P <.0001). This was not true for mind-body practices.
Researchers observed their findings reflected similar findings from a published study concerning general practitioners in France with 44.8% reporting burnout of which 4.8% reported severe burnout. In addition, 2 studies from 2019 with considerably smaller sample sizes reported burnout among dermatologists at both 38% and 56%.
Researchers concluded “The physical or verbal aggression of certain patients, which is increasingly frequent, seems to be a catalyst, along with the length of the working week and the feeling of not being sufficiently remunerated for the work carried out, whereas the practice of a sporting activity or the presence of a secretary would be protective.”
Jouan N, Taieb C, Halioua B. Burnout among French dermatologists: a national study. J Eur Acad Dermatol Venereol. Published online August 16, 2022. doi:10.1111/jdv.18492