Original Research

Burnout among rural hospital doctors in the Western Cape: Comparison with previous South African studies

Andrew R. Liebenberg, Johan F. Coetzee, Hofmeyr H. Conradie, Johan F. Coetzee
African Journal of Primary Health Care & Family Medicine | Vol 10, No 1 | a1568 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/phcfm.v10i1.1568 | © 2018 Andrew R. Liebenberg, Johan F. Coetzee (jnr), Hofmeyr H. Conradie, Johan F. Coetzee | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 10 July 2017 | Published: 24 May 2018

About the author(s)

Andrew R. Liebenberg, Division of Family Medicine, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Stellenbosch University, South Africa
Johan F. Coetzee, Ukwanda Centre for Rural Health, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Stellenbosch University, South Africa
Hofmeyr H. Conradie, Ukwanda Centre for Rural Health, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Stellenbosch University, South Africa
Johan F. Coetzee, Department of Anaesthesia and Critical Care, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Stellenbosch University, South Africa


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Abstract

Background: Burnout among doctors negatively affects health systems and, ultimately,
patient care.

Aim: To determine the prevalence of burnout among doctors working in the district health system in the Overberg and Cape Winelands districts of the Western Cape Province and to compare the findings with those of previous South African studies.

Setting: Rural district hospitals.

Methods: During 2013, a validated questionnaire (Maslach Burnout Inventory) was sent to 42 doctors working in the district health system within the referral area of the Worcester Hospital, consisting of the Overberg health district and the eastern half of the Cape Winelands.
Results: Response rate was 85.7%. Clinically significant burnout was found among 81% of respondents. High levels of burnout on all three subscales were present in 31% of participants.Burnout rates were similar to those of a previous study conducted among doctors working in the Cape Town Metropolitan Municipality primary health care facilities. Scores for emotional exhaustion (EE) and depersonalisation (DP) were greater than those of a national survey;however, the score for personal accomplishment (PA) was greater. EE and PA scores were
similar to that of a study of junior doctors working in the Red Cross Children’s Hospital;however, EE was smaller.

Conclusion: This study demonstrates high burnout rates among doctors working at district level hospitals, similar to the prevalence thereof in the Cape Town Metropolitan primary health care facilities. Health services planning should include strategies to address and prevent burnout of which adequate staffing and improved work environment are of prime importance.


Keywords

Burnout; professional; Health surveys; Comparative study; Psychology clinical, industrial, aspirations, behavioural medicine

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