BMJ Open 2:e001050 doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2012-001050
  • General practice / Family practice
    • Research

Burnout levels among Portuguese family doctors: a nationwide survey

  1. Pedro Marques-Vidal3
  1. 1Medical Faculty of Lisbon, University of Lisbon, Lisbon, Portugal
  2. 2Park Family Healthcare Unit, Alvalade Health Center, Lisbon, Portugal
  3. 3Institute of Social and Preventive Medicine (IUMSP), University Hospital of Lausanne, Lausanne, Switzerland
  1. Correspondence to Gisela Teodoro Marcelino; giselamarcelino{at}
  • Received 20 February 2012
  • Accepted 3 May 2012
  • Published 18 June 2012


Aim To characterise the prevalence of burnout syndrome in a sample of family doctors (FDs) working in the Portuguese National Health System.

Design Cross-sectional survey.

Setting Primary healthcare centres from the 18 continental districts and two archipelagos of Portugal.

Method The Portuguese version of the Maslach Burnout Inventory—Human Services Survey was sent to 40 randomly selected healthcare centres and distributed to the FDs employed. Socio-demographic and work-related data were also collected. Participants were classified as having high, average or low levels of emotional exhaustion (EE), depersonalisation (DP) and personal accomplishment (PA) dimensions of burnout.

Results 371 questionnaires were sent, of which 153 (83 women, age range 29–64 years; response rate 41%) returned. One-quarter (25.3%, 95% CI 18.6% to 33.1%) of FDs scored high for EE, 16.2% (10.7% to 23.2%) for DP and 16.7% (11.1% to 23.6%) for lack of PA. On multivariate analysis, being married, of older age, having many years of practice or working in a personalised healthcare unit tended to be associated with increased burnout components. Men tended to present higher EE and DP but lower lack of PA than women. Finally, the prevalence (95% CI) of burnout ranged between 4.1% (1.5% to 8.6%) and 32.4% (25.0% to 40.6%), depending on the definition used.

Conclusions High burnout is relatively common among Portuguese FDs. Burnout relief measures should be developed in order to prevent a further increase of burnout syndrome among Portuguese FDs.


  • GM and JM-C contributed equally.

  • To cite: Marcelino G, Cerveira JM, Carvalho I, et al. Burnout levels among Portuguese family doctors: a nationwide survey. BMJ Open 2012;2:e001050. doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2012-001050

  • Contributors We state that GM and JM-C have contributed equally, were responsible for the conception, design and acquisition of data. They both performed the statistical analysis and wrote the article. We also state that PM-V was the tutor of this research study and wrote part of the article. IC, JAC and ML helped with the acquisition of data and, along with NC, scientifically reviewed the paper and made major modifications regarding intellectual content. All authors have given their final approval of the version to be submitted.

  • Funding The research received no specific grant from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None.

  • Patient consent Obtained.

  • Ethics approval Ethics approval was provided by the Ethics Commissions of North, Algarve and Madeira and also by all corresponding Portuguese Regional Administrations.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data sharing statement We state that the manuscript, including related data, figures and tables, has not been previously published, that the manuscript is not under consideration elsewhere and that there are no additional data available.

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