Burnout and issues of the work environment reported by general dental practitioners in the United Kingdom

Author(s): Croucher R, Osborne D, Marcenes W, Sheiham A


Objective: To investigate causes of burnout among general dental practitioners.

Design: A cross-sectional investigation.

Setting: General dental practices in two areas of the UK and a group of continuing education sessions.

Subjects: 325 general dental practitioners, composed of two random samples recruited from two areas of the United Kingdom and an opportunistic sample, recruited from continuing education sessions.

Outcome measures: Levels of burnout, as measured by scores on one of the three burnout sub-scales--emotional exhaustion, depersonalisation and personal accomplishment.

Results: Respondents were more likely to report high levels of emotional exhaustion and low levels of personal accomplishment if they worked in practices with few other dentists. Those respondents reporting high levels of depersonalisation were more likely to provide a greater proportion of care through the National Health Service.

Conclusions: Burnout in this sample of general dental practitioners was related to features of their work organisation structure rather than necessarily due to an involvement with patients or the respondents' personal characteristics. Levels of social support in the workplace, measured here by the number of dentists in a practice, appear to have a protective effect against some aspects of burnout.

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