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Burnout and work satisfaction in general practitioners practicing in rural areas: results from the HaMEdSi study

Authors Adarkwah CC, Schwaffertz A, Labenz J, Becker A, Hirsch O

Received 8 July 2018

Accepted for publication 2 August 2018

Published 16 October 2018 Volume 2018:11 Pages 483—494


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 3

Editor who approved publication: Professor Igor Elman

Charles Christian Adarkwah,1–3,* Annette Schwaffertz,1,4,* Joachim Labenz,5 Annette Becker,1 Oliver Hirsch6

1Department of General Practice and Family Medicine, Philipps-University, Marburg, Germany; 2Department of Health Services Research, CAPHRI School for Public Health and Primary Care, Maastricht University, Maastricht, the Netherlands; 3Department of Health Services Research and General Practice, Faculty of Life Sciences, University of Siegen, Siegen, Germany; 4University of Giessen, Medical School, Giessen, Germany; 5Diakonie Klinikum Siegen, Department of Medicine, Siegen, Germany; 6FOM University of Applied Sciences, Siegen, Germany

*These authors contributed equally to this work

Background: An increasing number of general practitioners (GPs) are not satisfied with their working conditions and are at risk of developing burnout symptoms. As family medicine is becoming a major subject within the medical curriculum in Germany, practicing GPs need to meet higher demands in the future, ie, treating patients and taking part in the education of medical students. Accordingly, we aimed to determine GPs’ work satisfaction and risk of burnout.
Materials and methods: A survey was conducted among GPs in the region of Siegen-Wittgenstein. This area is a representative rural region in Germany. The Maslach Burnout Inventory (MBI) was used to assess the risk of burnout, while the Work Satisfaction Questionnaire (WSQ) was applied to assess work satisfaction. Canonical correlations were used to examine the association between work satisfaction and burnout in GPs.
Results: A good model fit was demonstrated for both the MBI and the WSQ. The canonical correlation analysis resulted in two statistically significant canonical functions with correlations of 0.64 (P<0.001) and 0.56 (P=0.001). The full model across all functions was significant (χ2 [18]=72.41, P<0.001). Burden and the global item in the WSQ are good predictors of emotional exhaustion, while patient care, personal rewards and professional relations seem to be good predictors of depersonalization/lack of empathy. This supports the approach to burnout as a multidimensional construct which has to be thoroughly diagnosed.
Conclusion: Differential interventions tailored to GPs with specific deficits in certain areas should be delivered. GPs with a high score on emotional exhaustion would need a different intervention, as these respondents have different associations with work satisfaction than do GPs with a high score for depersonalization/low empathy. Therefore, the results of this study could contribute to the design of differential interventions aimed at ameliorating symptoms of burnout in GPs.

Keywords: work satisfaction, burnout risk, GP, rural area

Corrigendum for this paper has been published

Please note Table S1 on page 493 has been updated on April 4, 2019. 

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