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Does burnout affect clinical reasoning? An observational study among residents in general practice.

Guillou, Philippe; Pelaccia, Thierry; Bacqué, Marie-Frédérique; Lorenzo, Mathieu.
BMC Med Educ ; 21(1): 35, 2021 Jan 07.
Artigo em Inglês | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-33413369


Burnout results from excessive demands at work. Caregivers suffering from burnout show a state of emotional exhaustion, leading them to distance themselves from their patients and to become less efficient in their work. While some studies have shown a negative impact of burnout on physicians' clinical reasoning, others have failed to demonstrate any such impacts. To better understand the link between clinical reasoning and burnout, we carried out a study looking for an association between burnout and clinical reasoning in a population of general practice residents.


We conducted a cross-sectional observational study among residents in general practice in 2017 and 2019. Clinical reasoning performance was assessed using a script concordance test (SCT). The Maslach Burnout Inventory for Human Services Survey (MBI-HSS) was used to determine burnout status in both original standards of Maslach's burnout inventory manual (conventional approach) and when individuals reported high emotional exhaustion in combination with high depersonalization or low personal accomplishment compared to a norm group ("emotional exhaustion +1" approach).


One hundred ninety-nine residents were included. The participants' mean SCT score was 76.44% (95% CI 75.77-77.10). In the conventional approach, 126 residents (63.31%) had no burnout, 37 (18.59%) had mild burnout, 23 (11.56%) had moderate burnout, and 13 (6.53%) had severe burnout. In the "exhaustion + 1" approach, 38 residents had a burnout status (19.10%). We found no significant correlation between burnout status and SCT scores either for conventional or "exhaustion + 1" approaches.


Our data seem to indicate that burnout status has no significant impact on clinical reasoning. However, one speculation is that SCT mostly examines the clinical reasoning process's analytical dimension, whereas emotions are conventionally associated with the intuitive dimension. We think future research might aim to explore the impact of burnout on intuitive clinical reasoning processes.
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