UEMO Statement on Prevention of Burn-Out in General Practitioners

26/09/2009 1422 Views

It is a fact that in the medical profession more people suffer from burnout than in the average population. Especially altruistic people are more susceptible to a burnout syndrome.

General practitioners, with their usually altruistic attitude and their wide range of responsibility, are therefore at high risk.

Studies done in Australia (1), Canada (2,3), Germany (4), Great-Britain (5), Italy (6), Switzerland (7,8) and in USA (9,10) have investigated burnout syndrome in general practitioners.

Based on this evidence are the following conclusions:

1. From 1986 there is a trend of job satisfaction decrease and burnout syndrome increase.
2. The main causes of these phenomena are:
– Loss of autonomy
– Increased workload
– Lower income
– Too many different and conflicting directives to follow
– Increasing administrative work
– Work interfering with private life and spare time
– Lack of understanding and appreciation of the GP/FPs’ work by politicians, public and specially media
– Increased patients’ expectations and demands

In some countries, measures have been taken to prevent burnout in GP/FM, mainly by the medical associations, providing the information and offering the counselling services. Up to now, governments have taken no action, unfortunately rather the opposite is to be feared.

The goals in this field for the UEMO as the political organisation of European general practitioners and family physicians, should be to:

1. support and increase the self-confidence of general practitioners/family physicians in Europe ,

2. encourage the national medical organisations to burnout preventive action plan (for example offering the counselling services, establishing the network of peers in GP/FM to council and advise, enabling supervision and substitution possibilities, offering information on prevention techniques, etc),

3. convince the Governments/Health Ministries that cost effective and high quality health care system is based on strong support and value of GP/FM in Europe and in each country respectively.
In order to achieve these goals, countries have to:

increase the autonomy and the income of GP/FPs,
– decrease the administrative workload ,
review the evidence based need for existing directives
support high quality specialist training in GP/FM and fight for recognition of GP/FM as a speciality in European Union.



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Toledo, 26 September, 2009

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