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Professional burnout, work patterns and career satisfaction in medical oncologists in Ireland

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Burnout is an occupational syndrome frequently encountered within the healthcare profession. It is characterised by emotional exhaustion (EE), depersonalisation (DP) and a low sense of personal accomplishment (PA). Its negative impact extends to the physician, patient and overall service provision.


The aim of this study was to evaluate work patterns, the prevalence of burnout and its associations in medical oncology consultants and specialist registrars (SpRs) in Ireland.


Participants were invited to partake in an anonymised online survey. Burnout domains were measured using the validated Maslach Burnout Inventory. Associations between variables were evaluated using the Mann-Whitney U and Kruskal-Wallis tests (continuous), and chi-square and Fisher’s exact testing (categorical).


Seventy-four physicians were contacted to participate, 44 (59%) completed the survey. The majority (71%) work ≥ 50 h a week, with 57% having additional on-call commitments of ≥ 5 days/month. Burnout is defined by a high score in EE combined with a high DP and/or low PA was identified in 45% of consultants and 20% of SpRs. Longer working hours (≥ 60 h/ week) were found to be associated with both high EE (p = 0.049) and DP (p = 0.019). Higher EE scores were demonstrated in those ≥ 40 years (p = 0.04). The majority (86%) reported they would become an oncologist again.


One or more of the symptoms of burnout is highly prevalent in medical oncologists in Ireland. With increasing pressure on resources, burnout is expected to increase. Attention to strategies for prevention needs to be prioritised within our healthcare system.

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Correspondence to Lynda Corrigan.

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Corrigan, L., O’Leary, C., Kroes, J. et al. Professional burnout, work patterns and career satisfaction in medical oncologists in Ireland. Ir J Med Sci (2019).

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  • Burnout
  • Job satisfaction
  • Medical oncology
  • Workload