BACKGROUNDS: The Burnout syndrome can be characterized by abnormalities in three domains: emotional exhaustion (EE), depersonalization (DP) and lack of personal realization (PR). In the medical profession, oncologists are especially prone to this syndrome. This study evaluates its prevalence among cancer physicians in Brazil correlating it to their demographic, work related variables and seeks possible solutions to prevent burnout. METHODS: We mailed three questionnaires (Maslach burnout inventory, general and opinion questionnaires) to all 645 members of the Brazilian Cancer Society and received 136 responses after 10 weeks. RESULTS: The response rate was of 21%. The burnout syndrome was present at moderate or severe levels in all three domains analyzed in 15.7% of the physicians. For each of these the frequency of moderate or severe dysfunction was analyzed and found to be present in 55.8% for EE, 96.1% for DP and 23.4% for RP. Practicing physical activity or having a hobby correlated significantly with lower levels of EE (p=0.008) while working only for the private sector correlated with higher DP scores (p=0.021). Cancer physicians pointed out that less paper work (73.5%) and a lower patient load (72.7%) were the most important factors for prevention of this syndrome. CONCLUSION: Burnout syndrome is frequent among Brazilian cancer physicians and further studies should be conducted to evaluate its prevalence and prevention among other sub specialists.
Professional burnout; Medical oncology; Depersonalization