Original Research

Study of burnout and depressive symptoms in doctors at a central level, state hospital

Ariefdien Nazeema, Karishma Lowton, Zenaida Tenea, Ani Anic, Preethi Jayrajh
South African Journal of Psychiatry | Vol 29 | a1866 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajpsychiatry.v29i0.1866 | © 2023 Ariefdien Nazeema, Karishma Lowton, Zenaida Tenea, Ani Anic, Preethi Jayrajh | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 14 January 2022 | Published: 28 February 2023

About the author(s)

Ariefdien Nazeema, Department of Psychiatry, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Witwaterstrand, Johannesburg, South Africa
Karishma Lowton, Department of Psychiatry, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Witwaterstrand, Johannesburg, South Africa
Zenaida Tenea, Department of Psychiatry, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Witwaterstrand, Johannesburg, South Africa
Ani Anic, Department of Psychiatry, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Witwaterstrand, Johannesburg, South Africa
Preethi Jayrajh, Department of Psychiatry, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Witwaterstrand, Johannesburg, South Africa

Abstract

Background: Doctors are at high risk of burnout, which has far-reaching consequences on an individual and organisational level. Several studies have shown an association between burnout and depression.

Aim: This study aimed to determine the rate of burnout and depressive symptoms among doctors, as well as factors associated with both conditions.

Setting: Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Academic Hospital.

Methods: Burnout was measured using the Maslach Burnout Inventory–Human Services Survey and defined as the total score of high emotional exhaustion (≥ 27 points) + high depersonalisation (≥ 13 points). Individual subscales were analysed separately. Depressive symptoms were screened using the Patient-Health Questionnaire-9 (PHQ-9) and a score of ≥ 8 was deemed indicative of depression.

Results: Of the respondents (n = 327 for burnout and n = 335 for depression), 46.2% screened positive for burnout, whilst 53.73% screened positive for depression. Factors associated with increased burnout risk were younger age; Caucasian race; internship and/or registrarship; the discipline of emergency medicine; and having a prior psychiatric diagnosis of depressive and/or anxiety disorder. Factors associated with increased risk of depressive symptoms were females; younger age; being an intern, medical officer or registrar; disciplines of anaesthetics and obstetrics and gynaecology; having a prior psychiatric diagnosis of depressive and/or anxiety disorder; and family history of psychiatric disorder.

Conclusion: A high rate of burnout and depressive symptoms was determined. Although there is an overlap between the two conditions in terms of both symptomatology and risk factors, specific risk factors were determined for each in this population.

Contribution: This study highlighted the rate of burnout and depressive symptoms experienced by doctors at the state level hospital necessitating individual and institutional interventions to address this.


Keywords

burnout; depression; doctors; Maslach; Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Academic Hospital.

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