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More than 70% of young oncologists in Europe suffer symptoms of burnout Версия для печати Отправить на e-mail

Lugano/Madrid, 26 September 2014 -- Across Europe, more than 70% of young cancer specialists are showing signs of burnout, the largest survey of its kind has revealed. The results, reported at the Congress of the European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO 2014) in Madrid, have prompted calls for serious action to address the issue at all levels.

“Oncology is an exceptionally rewarding career, but it can be demanding and stressful at times,” said Dr Susana Banerjee, lead author of the study and a consultant medical oncologist at The Royal Marsden NHS Trust in London, UK.

“Oncologists make complex decisions about cancer management, supervise the use of toxic therapies, work long hours, and continually face patients suffering and dying,” she said. “Furthermore, young oncologists are now facing increased administration, complaints/medico-legal issues, increasing expectations and workload with reduced resources. Taken together, these factors make oncologists at risk of developing burnout, a syndrome characterised by emotional exhaustion, depersonalisation (treating people as if they are objects), and loss of meaning or purpose in work.”

Banerjee and other members of the ESMO Young Oncologists Committee surveyed 595 oncologists under the age of 40 from across Europe and they report that 71% of participants showed burnout.

“The ESMO Young Oncologists Committee burnout survey has shown that burnout is a common, universal problem for young oncologists today,” Banerjee said.

Burnout could lead to serious personal consequences for the doctor such as anxiety, depression, alcohol or substance abuse and suicide, she noted. Doctors suffering burnout might also face professional consequences including challenges when it comes to delivering compassionate, high-quality patient care.

In addition, there is a risk that oncologists who experience burnout may leave clinical practice sooner than planned, with potential impact on the oncology workforce and ultimately patient care.

Differences across Europe

The survey showed that rates of burnout varied significantly across Europe. They were highest in central Europe, affecting 84% of respondents, and lowest in Northern Europe including the UK, where 52% of respondents were affected.

Factors significantly linked to higher risk of developing burnout were poor work/life balance, inadequate vacation time. Personal factors include not being in a relationship, living alone and not having children. Hospital factors included having a small workforce, higher numbers of patients and no access to support services.

Although there was no significant difference in burnout between men and women, men were found to have higher depersonalisation scores than women (60 vs 45%).

Action needed

Banerjee said that the first step in addressing burnout is to recognise the extent and implications of the problem for the current and future generations of oncologists.

“I believe as a profession, doctors have a duty to try and address this growing issue at all levels --from universities, individual hospitals and professional societies such as ESMO,” she said. “Burnout should not be stigmatised as a weakness. We need to support colleagues by focusing on recovery and prevention.”

Strategies including promoting a philosophy of good work/life balance, having the opportunity to discuss stressful aspects of work as well as access to support services should be encouraged, she added.

Achieving a good work/life balance is vital, she said. “This can include interests outside daily clinical practice such as research, teaching and mentoring students as well as interests outside of work such as hobbies, exercise and spending time with family and friends.

Achieving job satisfaction and enjoying being an oncologist is likely to have a positive impact in improving patient care, communication and relationships with colleagues.

“Although it is important to recognise this issue, the ESMO Young Oncologists Committee believes that by no means should these results discourage young colleagues who want to become medical oncologists,” said Dr Raffaele Califano, Chair of the Ccommittee. “This specialty remains one of the most fascinating and rewarding where physicians can make a huge difference in patients outcomes and quality of life.”


Notes to Editors

1081O_PR: Professional Burnout in European Young Oncologists: a European Survey conducted by the European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO) Young Oncologists Committee

Session info

1081O_PR                            Sunday, September 28, 2014 – 11:00 AM – 12:20 AM  - Alicante


About the European Society for Medical Oncology

The European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO) is the leading European professional organisation committed to advancing the specialty of medical oncology and promoting a multidisciplinary approach to cancer treatment and care.
ESMO’s mission is to advance cancer care and cure through fostering and disseminating good science that leads to better medicine and determines best practice.

The ESMO international community counts more than 9,000 oncology professionals sharing best practices and the latest know-how in cancer treatment and care.

ESMO’s scientific journal, Annals of Oncology, ranks among the top 10 clinical oncology journals worldwide.

To find out more about ESMO, please visit:

Abstract: 1081O_PR

Professional Burnout in European Young Oncologists: a European Survey conducted by the European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO) Young Oncologists Committee

S. Banerjee1, R. Califano2, J. Corral3, E. De Azambuja4, L. De Mattos-Arruda5, V. Guarneri6, M. Hutka7, K. Jordan8, E. Martinelli9, G. Mountzios10, M.A. Ozturk11, M. Petrova12, S. Postel-Vinay13, M. Preusser14, C. Qvortrup15, M. Strijbos16, N.M. Volkov17, D. Olmos18

1Department Of Medicine, Royal Marsden HospitalNHS Foundation Trust, London/UNITED KINGDOM, 2Department Of Medical Oncology, The Christie NHS Foundation Trust, Manchester/UNITED KINGDOM, 3Medical Oncology, Instituto de Biomedicina de Sevilla, Seville/SPAIN, 4Medical Oncology, Institute Jules Bordet, Brussels/BELGIUM, 5Institut D'oncologia, Vall d'Hebron Univertity Hospital, Barcelona/SPAIN, 6Dept. Of Hematology/oncology, Modena University Hospital, Modena/ITALY, 7Gynaecology Unit, Champalimaud Foundation Cancer Center, Lisbon/PORTUGAL, 8Klinik Für Innere Medizin Iv, Universitätsklinikum Halle (Saale), Halle/GERMANY, 9Dipt. Di Internistica Clinica E Sperimentale, Second University of Naples, Napoli/ITALY, 10Medical Oncology, University of Athens School of Medicine Clinical Therapeutics, Athens/GREECE, 11Medical Oncology, MARMARA UNIVERSITY FACULTY OF MEDICINE, ISTANBUL/TURKEY, 12Department Of Medical Oncology, Military Medical Academy - Sofia, Sofia/BULGARIA, 13Sitep, Institut Gustave Roussy, Université Paris XI, Paris/FRANCE, 14Department Of Medicine I, Medical University of Vienna, Vienna/AUSTRIA, 15Oncology, Odense University Hospital, Odense C/DENMARK, 16Medical Oncology, A.Z. Klina, Brasschaat/BELGIUM, 17Oncology Department, Diagnostic Treatment Centre of International Institute of Biological Systems Dr. Sergey Berezin, St. Petersburg/RUSSIAN FEDERATION, 18Prostate Cancer Clinical Research Unit, CNIO - Spanish National Cancer Center, Madrid/SPAIN

Aim: Burnout could potentially have serious negative impact on quality of cancer care, professional satisfaction and personal life. Our aim was to investigate the burnout prevalence, work and lifestyle factors amongst European oncologists ≤40 (YOs).

Methods: A survey was conducted using the validated Maslach Burnout Inventory (MBI) and additional questions exploring work/ lifestyle factors. Parametric and non-parametric analyses were performed to identify factors associated with burnout and multivariate analyses to derive a predictive burnout model.

Results: 737 surveys (all ages) were collected from 41 European countries. Countries were divided into 6 regions. Results from 595 (81%) YOs were included (81% medical oncologists; 52% trainees, 62% women). 71% of YOs showed burnout (burnout indices: depersonalisation 50%; emotional exhaustion 35%; low accomplishment 35%). 22% requested support for burnout during training and 74% reported no hospital access to support services. Burnout rates were significantly different across Europe (p<0.0001). Burnout was highest in southeastern (83%)/ central European (82%) regions and lowest in Northern Europe (52%). Depersonalisation scores were higher in men compared to women (60% vs 45% p=0.0001) and low accomplishment was highest in 26-30 age group (p<0.01). Univariate analysis showed burnout to be associated with European region, number of oncologists in the workplace, patient number/week, commuting time, relationship and children status (all p<0.05). Burnout was higher in oncologists with no support access, lower recreation hours, inadequate work/life balance and inadequate vacation time (all p<0.05). In multivariate analyses, European region, work/life balance and inadequate vacation time remained independent burnout factors (p<0.01). A predictive burnout model will be presented.

Conclusions: This is the largest burnout survey of European YOs. Burnout is common amongst YOs and rates vary across Europe. Achieving a good work/life balance and adequate vacation time may reduce burnout levels. Raising burnout awareness, support for oncologists and interventional research are needed

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