Burnout and recovery among physicians

How to Improve Recovery and Reduce Burnout among Physicians in Rural Tanzania

About the project

The research focuses on physician well – being and ill- being and investigates the antecedents and consequences of burnout among physicians and their support staff. The topic is of high relevance worldwide, in particular for the development of human and health services in rural areas with few doctors. Our focus is on organizational mechanisms that identify and address these concerns.

The researchers will establish a panel with a sample of physicians in Tanzania and Germany. Specifically, this study aims to examine the impact of job demands pertinent to physicians (e.g. role overload; long working hours, etc.) on physician burnout and the buffering role of both organizational support mechanisms (i.e. high involvement work practices) and relational mechanisms (i.e. perceived social impact of work; perceived social worth, perceived task significance).

The research builds on the well-established job-demands resources model (Bakker & Demerouti, 2007; Demerouti et al., 2001) and will test the negative impact of job demands on physician illbeing (i.e. burnout) and the moderating role of job demands. In doing so, this study aims to (1.) identify factors which show that physicians wellbeing is at risk;

(2.) examine the extent to which utilization of High- Performance Work Systems might be related to the burnout problem. (3.) Suggest alternative ways that can be used to resolve the problem that exists between HRM practices and physicians’ wellbeing; and (4.) outline avenues for future research in improving recovery and reduce burnout among physicians.

Worldwide, the health of physicians may be a significant risk factor for inadequate patient safety and care. However, since the responses to stress and burnout differ across countries, it is important to identify and assess commonalities and differences in responses to such problems.

The findings will cast light on organizational responses such as the importance of participative work practices for helping physicians and their team cope in a demanding environment as well as the role played by relational mechanisms which emphasize the effects of their work in terms of benefiting others and receiving acknowledgement and appreciation.