Burnout, engagement and resident physicians' self-reported errors

J. T. Prins, Frank M.M.A. Van Der Heijden, J. E.H.M. Hoekstra-Weebers, A. B. Bakker, H. B.M. Van De Wiel, B. Jacobs, S. M. Gazendam-Donofrio

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209 Citations (Scopus)


Burnout is a work-related syndrome that may negatively affect more than just the resident physician. On the other hand, engagement has been shown to protect employees; it may also positively affect the patient care that the residents provide. Little is known about the relationship between residents' self-reported errors and burnout and engagement. In our national study that included all residents and physicians in The Netherlands, 2115 questionnaires were returned (response rate 41.1%). The residents reported on burnout (Maslach Burnout Inventory-Health and Social Services), engagement (Utrecht Work Engagement Scale) and self-assessed patient care practices (six items, two factors: errors in action/judgment, errors due to lack of time). Ninety-four percent of the residents reported making one or more mistake without negative consequences for the patient during their training. Seventy-one percent reported performing procedures for which they did not feel properly trained. More than half (56%) of the residents stated they had made a mistake with a negative consequence. Seventy-six percent felt they had fallen short in the quality of care they provided on at least one occasion. Men reported more errors in action/judgment than women. Significant effects of specialty and clinical setting were found on both types of errors. Residents with burnout reported significantly more errors (p < 0.001). Highly engaged residents reported fewer errors (p ≤ 0.01). Overall residents disclosed that in their perception they regularly make errors throughout their residency. Steps should be taken to help residents minimize the number of perceived errors made. Therefore, it is important to prevent residents from developing burnout and to keep residents engaged in their work.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)654-666
Number of pages13
JournalPsychology, Health and Medicine
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2009

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