Work place characteristics, work stress and burnout among Dutch dentists

Author(s): Gorter RC, Albrecht G, Hoogstraten J, Eijkman MA


Professional burnout, a long-term consequence of occupational stress, is considered to be a factor that explains a substantial proportion of incapacity for work. Burnout is defined as emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, and diminished personal accomplishment.

Aims: To investigate levels of burnout among Dutch practising dentists, to compare dentists' scores with norm scores, and to determine the percentage of dentists "at risk".

Methods: The instrument used was the Dutch version of the Maslach Burnout Inventory (MBI-NL), a 20-item modified version of the original MBI. A highly representative group of Dutch dentists participated (n = 709, 75% response rate).

Results: Mean levels (and standard deviations) of burnout were: emotional exhaustion 13.7 (8.6); depersonalization 5.9 (3.9); personal accomplishment 30.8 (5.9). Dentists had more favourable means compared with standard scores, although in the 95th percentile dentists showed more emotional exhaustion than standards indicate. While no overall sex differences were found, male middle-aged dentists tended to show more burnout. Of the working Dutch dentists, 21% had a certain risk, 13% had high overall levels of burnout, and 2.5% were highly burned out.

Conclusion: It is concluded that Dutch dentists have relatively favourable mean levels of burnout, but those who are exhausted are extremely exhausted. The male dentist in his forties appears to be most vulnerable to burnout.

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