Identification of surgeon burnout via a single-item measure

J. Houdmont*, P. Daliya, A. Adiamah, E. Theophilidou, J. Hassard, D. N. Lobo, East Midlands Surgical Academic Network (EMSAN) Burnout Study Group

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)
32 Downloads (Pure)


Burnout is endemic in surgeons in the UK and linked with poor patient safety and quality of care, mental health problems, and workforce sustainability. Mechanisms are required to facilitate the efficient identification of burnout in this population. Multi-item measures of burnout may be unsuitable for this purpose owing to assessment burden, expertise required for analysis, and cost.

To determine whether surgeons in the UK reporting burnout on the 22-item Maslach Burnout Inventory (MBI) can be reliably identified by a single-item measure of burnout.

Consultant (n = 333) and trainee (n = 217) surgeons completed the MBI and a single-item measure of burnout. We applied tests of discriminatory power to assess whether a report of high burnout on the single-item measure correctly classified MBI cases and non-cases.

The single-item measure demonstrated high discriminatory power on the emotional exhaustion burnout domain: the area under the curve was excellent for consultants and trainees (0.86 and 0.80), indicating high sensitivity and specificity. On the depersonalisation domain, discrimination was acceptable for consultants (0.76) and poor for trainees (0.69). In contrast, discrimination was acceptable for trainees (0.71) and poor for consultants (0.62) on the personal accomplishment domain.

A single-item measure of burnout is suitable for the efficient assessment of emotional exhaustion in consultant and trainee surgeons in the UK. Administered regularly, such a measure would facilitate the early identification of at-risk surgeons and swift intervention, as well as the monitoring of group-level temporal trends to inform resource allocation to coincide with peak periods.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)641-643
Number of pages3
JournalOccupational Medicine
Issue number9
Early online date31 Oct 2022
Publication statusPublished - 01 Dec 2022
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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