High incidence of burnout in academic chairpersons of anesthesiology: Should we be taking better care of our leaders?

Gildàsio S. De Oliveira, Shireen Ahmad, M. Christine Stock, Ronald L. Harter, Marcela D. Almeida, Paul C. Fitzgerald, Robert J. McCarthy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

73 Scopus citations


Background: Burnout is a work-related psychologic syndrome characterized by emotional exhaustion, low personal accomplishment, and depersonalization. Methods: By using an instrument that included the MBI-HHS Burnout Inventory, we surveyed academic anesthesiology chairpersons in the United States. Current level of job satisfaction compared with 1 and 5 yr before the survey, likelihood of stepping down as chair in the next 2 yr, and a high risk of burnout were the primary outcomes. Results: Of the 117 chairs surveyed, 102 (87%) responded. Nine surveys had insufficient responses for assessment of burnout. Of 93 chairs, 32 (34%) reported high current job satisfaction, which represented a significant decline compared with that reported for 1 yr (P = 0.009) and 5 yr (P = 0.001) before the survey. Of 93 chairs, 26 (28%) reported extreme likelihood of stepping down as a chair in 1-2 yr. There was no association of age (P = 0.16), sex (P = 0.82), or self-reported effectiveness (P = 0.63) with anticipated likelihood of stepping down, but there was a negative association between the modified efficacy scale scoρrgr; = -0.303, P = 0.003) and likelihood of stepping down. Of 93 chairs, 26 (28%) met the criteria for high burnout and an additional 29 (31%) met the criteria for moderately high burnout. Decreased current job satisfaction and low self-reported spousal/significant other support were independent predictors of high burnout risk. Conclusion: Fifty-one percent of academic anesthesiology chairs exhibit a high incidence/risk of burnout. Age, sex, time as a chair, hours worked, and perceived effectiveness were not associated with high burnout; however, low job satisfaction and reduced self-reported spousal/significant other support significantly increased the risk.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)181-193
Number of pages13
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine


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