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Burnout in physicians: a survey of the Danish society for palliative medicine
  1. Tina Boegelund Kristensen1,
  2. Mette Kelstrup Hallas2,
  3. Rikke Høgsted3,
  4. Mogens Groenvold4,5,
  5. Per Sjøgren6 and
  6. Kristoffer Marsaa7
  1. 1Department of Oncology, Herlev Hospital, Herlev, Denmark
  2. 2Department of Oncology, Odense University Hospital, University of Southern Denmark, Odense, Denmark
  3. 3Institute of Mental High Risk Psychology, Copenhagen, Denmark
  4. 4Department of Public Health, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark
  5. 5Department of Geriatric and Palliative Medicine, Palliative Care Research Unit, Bispebjerg and Frederiksberg Hospital, Copenhagen, Denmark
  6. 6Section of Palliative Medicine, Department of Oncology, Centre for Cancer and Organ Diseases, Rigshospitalet - Copenhagen University Hospital, Copenhagen, Denmark
  7. 7The Danish Knowledge Centre for Rehabilitation and Palliative Care (REHPA), University of Southern Denmark, Nyborg, Denmark
  1. Correspondence to Tina Boegelund Kristensen, Department of Oncology, Herlev Hospital, Herlev, Denmark; tina.boegelund{at}


Objectives Burnout, which is a state of prolonged physical and psychological exhaustion, seems to be a prevalent and serious problem among healthcare workers. Our aim was to investigate the prevalence of burnout symptoms among members of Danish Society of Palliative Medicine (DSPaM).

Methods All 160 physician members of DSPaM were invited to a questionnaire survey. The Copenhagen Burnout Inventory (CBI) was used to evaluate and differentiate between personal, work-related and client-related burnout.

Results 76 members responded (47,5%). 51% regularly received supervision. Scores on personal burnout demonstrated that 25% had no symptoms and 55% had symptoms that required attention; however, no respondents needed immediate intervention. Regarding work-related burnout: 40% had no symptoms, 20% had symptoms that needed attention and 3% needed immediate help. Regarding client-related burnout: 65% had no symptoms, 32% had symptoms that needed attention and none needed immediate intervention.

Conclusions This survey demonstrated a relatively low rate of burnout symptoms among members of the DSPaM. In particular, the client-related burnout score was low, while higher scores were observed in personal and work-related burnout. Despite the relatively low overall levels of burnout, it is notable that about half of the physicians reported personal burnout, which needs to be addressed.

  • terminal care
  • supportive care
  • education and training
  • communication

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  • Contributors MH, MG and KM developed the hypothesis and the questionnaire. DSPaM send out the questionnaires. TB and MG performed all statistical analysis. TB, MH, RH, PS, MG and KM wrote and critically reviewed and approved the manuscript.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests KM reports personal fees from Astellas Pharma, personal fees from GlaxoSmithKline, personal fees from AstraZeneca, personal fees from Novartis, personal fees from Boehringer Ingelheim, personal fees from Kyowa Kirin, personal fees from Norgine, outside the submitted work.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; internally peer reviewed.