Distress and burnout in young medical researchers before and during the Greek austerity measures: forerunner of a greater crisis?

  • Dimitra Sifaki-Pistolla
  • Vasiliki-Eirini Chatzea
  • Evangelos Melidoniotis
  • Enkeleint-Aggelos Mechili
Original Paper



Distress and burnout are strongly correlated with austerity and financial recessions. Aim of this study was to assess distress and burnout among young medical researchers (YMR) in Greece before and during the financial crisis.


In total 2050 YMR affiliated in all the nursing and medical departments of Greece were enrolled (1025 in Period A: 2008 and 1025 in Period B: 2017). Distress and burnout were measured via DASS-21 and Maslach Burnout Inventory (MBI) questionnaires.


Before the crisis, prevalence of distress and burnout among young medical researchers was 24 and 20%, respectively. During the financial crisis distress prevalence increased significantly (56%), while there has also been a tremendous increase in burnout occurrence (60%). Specific sociodemographic characteristics presented significantly increased rate of change (females, singles and divorced/widowers, living with family members, volunteers, smokers and heavy alcohol consumers). Distress and burnout scales were positively correlated (Spearman’s r = 0.81; p = 0.01). Depression scores shifted from normal to moderate (rate of change = 13.1%), anxiety levels increased from normal to severe (rate of change = 14.3%) and tension/stress scores elevated from normal to severe (rate of change = 20.2%).


It is evident that the current financial crisis and working conditions have a strong impact on health status of young medical researchers in Greece. The observed increased trends and the identified predictors could guide targeted and comprehensive interventions towards tackling distress among the medical researchers not only in Greece but also in other countries suffering from financial crisis.


Professional burnout Depression Stress Young medical researchers Austerity measures Economic recession Financial crisis 



The authors would like to thank the developers of the Greek DASS and MBI questionnaires for providing permission to use these tools; and the original developers for their approval and support. Additionally, the authors would like to acknowledge the significant contribution of several collaborators from the University of the Aegean for their guidance and contribution towards the successful implementation of the current study.



Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Clinic of Social and Family Medicine, School of MedicineUniversity of CreteCreteGreece
  2. 2.University Hospital of HeraklionCreteGreece
  3. 3.Department of Healthcare, Faculty of Public HealthUniversity of VloraVlorëAlbania

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