BioScience Trends. 2016;10(1):27-33. (DOI: 10.5582/bst.2015.01175)

Workload, burnout, and medical mistakes among physicians in China: A cross-sectional study.

Wen J, Cheng YZ, Hu XY, Yuna P, Hao TY, Shi YK


The purpose of this study is to determine the prevalence of burnout among different grade hospitals and to examine if a relation exists between burnout and medical mistakes. A multicenter cross-sectional survey was conducted. Physicians were interviewed in hospitals from 10 provinces in China. Burnout was measured using the Chinese version of the Maslach Burnout Inventory-General Survey. Overall, 1,537 physicians were included in this study. Of these, 76.9% reported some burnout symptoms or serious burnout symptoms and 54.8% reported committing medical mistakes during the last year. 39.6%, 50.0%, and 59.5% of the respondents in primary, secondary, and tertiary hospitals respectively reported having made mistakes over the course of the previous year. Multivariate analysis demonstrated that being female was protective against medical mistakes (OR = 0.72, 95% CI: 0.58-0.89), whereas physician-reported 60 or more work hours per week (OR = 1.65, 95% CI: 1.22-2.22), and physicians who reported serious burnout (OR = 2.28, 95% CI: 1.63-3.17) were independently associated with higher incidence of medical mistakes. In conclusion, Chinese physicians reported high workloads, high rates of burnout and high medical mistakes. Physicians in tertiary hospitals were especially overworked and suffered the most serious burnout. Longer work hours per week, and burnout were the independent risk factors for medical mistakes.

KEYWORDS: Workload, burnout, medical mistakes, physicians, cross-sectional study

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