Original Research

Prevalence and determinants of burnout among South African doctors during the COVID-19 pandemic

Saajida Khan, Itumeleng Ntatamala, Roslynn Baatjies, Shahieda Adams
South African Journal of Psychiatry | Vol 30 | a2225 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajpsychiatry.v30i0.2225 | © 2024 Saajida Khan, Itumeleng Ntatamala, Roslynn Baatjies, Shahieda Adams | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 09 November 2023 | Published: 08 April 2024

About the author(s)

Saajida Khan, Division of Occupational Medicine and Centre for Environmental and Occupational Health Research, School of Public Health, University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa, South Africa
Itumeleng Ntatamala, Division of Occupational Medicine and Centre for Environmental and Occupational Health Research, School of Public Health, University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa
Roslynn Baatjies, Department of Environmental and Occupational Studies, Faculty of Applied Sciences, Cape Peninsula University of Technology, Cape Town, South Africa
Shahieda Adams, Division of Occupational Medicine and Centre for Environmental and Occupational Health Research, School of Public Health, University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa

Abstract

Background: Burnout, resulting from chronic workplace stress that has been unsuccessfully managed, has previously been documented in doctors. The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has increased occupational challenges faced by doctors, potentiating their risk for burnout.

Aim: This study aimed to determine the prevalence and determinants of burnout among medical doctors during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Setting: Three public sector hospitals in Gqeberha, South Africa.

Methods: A cross-sectional study of 260 voluntary participants was conducted. Participants completed self-administered electronic questionnaires. Logistic regression analysis was performed to explore the determinants of burnout.

Results: The prevalence of burnout in this study was 78%. Burnout was significantly associated with being a medical intern or community-service medical officer (adjusted odd ratio [AOR] = 6.72, 1.71–26.40), being in the lowest income band (AOR = 10.78, 2.55–45.49), and using alcohol to manage work-related stress (AOR = 3.01, 1.12–8.04). Job-related factors associated with burnout were experiencing high conflict at work (AOR = 5.04, 1.92–13.20) and high role ambiguity and role conflict (AOR = 4.49, 1.98–10.18). Low support at work (AOR = 9.99, 3.66–27.23), medium job satisfaction (AOR = 5.38, 2.65–10.93) and medium support at work (AOR = 3.39, 1.71–6.73) were positively associated with burnout. Participants with medium (AOR = 0.28, 0.10–0.80) and high levels of resilience (AOR = 0.08, 0.03–0.25) were protected against burnout. Coronavirus disease 2019-related factors were not significantly associated with burnout.

Conclusion: The burnout prevalence among South African medical doctors at public hospitals during the COVID-19 pandemic was high and strongly associated with job stress factors.

Contribution: Given the increased prevalence of burnout among doctors and the strong associations with job stress factors, mitigation of burnout requires targeted organisational interventions.


Keywords

burnout; work-related stress; medical doctors; COVID-19; public hospital; South Africa.

Sustainable Development Goal

Goal 3: Good health and well-being

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