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Burnout and Associated Factors Among Medical Students in a Public University in Uganda: A Cross-Sectional Study

Authors Kajjimu J, Kaggwa MM, Bongomin F

Received 21 October 2020

Accepted for publication 29 December 2020

Published 25 January 2021 Volume 2021:12 Pages 63—75


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Dr Md Anwarul Azim Majumder

Jonathan Kajjimu,1 Mark Mohan Kaggwa,2 Felix Bongomin3

1Faculty of Medicine, Mbarara University of Science and Technology, Mbarara, Uganda; 2Department of Psychiatry, Faculty of Medicine, Mbarara University of Science and Technology, Mbarara, Uganda; 3Department of Medical Microbiology and Immunology, Faculty of Medicine, Gulu University, Gulu, Uganda

Correspondence: Jonathan Kajjimu
Faculty of Medicine, Mbarara University of Science and Technology, Mbarara, Uganda
Tel +256759719384

Background: Burnout is a well-recognized phenomenon that may manifest with feelings of stress, fatigue, or exhaustion. It is a common and emerging problem among healthcare workers. Medical students may be at increased risk of burnout given the rigorous nature of their training. However, there is a paucity of data on the burden of burnout among medical students in Africa.
Aim: This study aimed to determine the prevalence of burnout, as assessed using the Maslach Burnout Inventory – Student Survey (MBI-SS) as well as factors associated with the development of burnout among students pursuing Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery (MBChB) degrees at Mbarara University of Science and Technology (MUST), Uganda.
Methods: A single-centre, cross-sectional, online survey was conducted among MBChB students of MUST. Burnout was assessed using the Maslach Burnout Inventory – Student Survey (MBI-SS) tool. Bivariate analysis and backward stepwise logistic regression analysis were performed to assess possible associations between variables related to participants’ demography, socioeconomic, personal, learning environment, outside school environment aspects and burnout prevalence scores.
Results: A total of 145 medical students, 102 (70.3%) male, with a median (range) age of 23 (18– 40) years were studied. A total of 135 students (93.1%) presented with high levels of emotional exhaustion, 90 (62.1%) students had low levels of professional efficacy scores and 141 (97.2%) of the medical students had high levels of cynicism. Overall, 79 (54.5%) students had burnout, as defined by the MBI-SS tool. Choosing MBChB willingly appears to be an independent predictor of burnout (Adjusted odds ratio: 7.2; 95% CI: 1.4– 36.9; p=0.018).
Conclusion: More than one-half of medical students questioned at MUST do experience a degree of burnout. Preventative and interventional measures should be considered in the development of the medical curriculum.

Keywords: medical students, burnout, Maslach Burnout Inventory, mental health, well-being; Uganda

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