AuthorChris Manning, Chris Hewitt
PULSE is a GP weekly publication and this campaign started its life with a conversation between Chris Manning, Chris Hewitt (GP in Leicester) and the Editor back in 2012.
In 2013, PULSE purchased the licenses required to e-survey some 2000 GPs using a tool called the Maslach Burnout Inventory http://www.mindgarden.com/products/mbi.htm (MBI) that measures burnout http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Burnout_%28psychology%29 . The tool has been in use now for over 25 years now and is used widely for research, since it helps to assess professional burnout in various professions; assess and validate the nature of burnout and understanding its nature so that effective interventions can be developed to address it.
Burnout itself consists of three elements that the tool is designed to measure:
- Emotional exhaustion: feelings of being emotionally overtaxed and exhausted by one’s work
- Depersonalization: unfeeling and impersonal responses toward recipients of one’s service, treatment, or intervention
- Personal accomplishment: feelings of competence and successful achievement in one’s work
Our study of nearly 1784 GPs who self-completed the survey on the PULSE website over a period of three weeks – and PULSE had to keep purchasing further licenses to cope with demand – showed the following: 41% had high levels of emotional exhaustion; 72% had high levels of depersonalisation and 97% had low levels of personal accomplishment (the largest predictor of future burnout).
This means that 43% of our sample are at risk in all three areas; 83% in two of them and 99% in one of them. Whilst this is a self-selecting sample, it still represents a group of doctors who, given the opportunity are prepared, in spite of their exhaustion, to fill in such an online survey. 43% at risk in three areas also corresponds to a care population of some 1.3 million people.
We did our best to address the emotions and needs that would have been raised by completing the survey by providing some stories of doctors who had come through it, advice and signposting to available services (which in the UK are still very limited). Two of us also had on-line discussions with GPs who made specific comments about the survey findings and their own predicaments. Chris Manning also wrote his own story (link) about his experience of major depression and the importance of doctors looking after their own and each others’ health and wellbeing.
A previous MBI postal survey in Feb 2012 http://bmjopen.bmj.com/content/2/1/e000274.full of 564 GPs in Essex found that 42% were depersonalised; 46% were emotionally exhausted and 34% felt a lack of personal accomplishment.