Article in English.
Abstract on Pubmed:
Introduction: Burnout and mental distress in working doctors increase the risk for both suboptimal treatment of patients and negative health consequences for the doctors. Doctors have low rates of sickness absence and are reluctant to seek help, especially for mental distress. We examined whether a spell of sickness absence after a counselling intervention could predict reduction in emotional exhaustion among doctors at work 3 years later. Methods: A 3-year follow up after a counselling intervention for burnout at the Resource Centre Villa Sana in Norway in 2003–05 was completed by 184/227 doctors. Self-report assessments were administered at baseline, 1-, and 3-years. The effect of number of weeks of sickness absence on reduction in emotional exhaustion among doctors working 3 years after the intervention was assessed by linear regression. Results: Of the 184 doctors completing assessment, 149 were working at 3-year follow up. Emotional exhaustion (scale 1–5) was significantly reduced at follow up (from 3.00±0.96 to 2.37±0.79, p<0.001). The number of weeks of sickness absence after the intervention was a significant positive predictor of this reduction (β=0.31, p<0.001), also after including sex, age, neuroticism, reduction of work hours, and other forms for treatment in the model. Conclusions: The number of weeks of sickness absence after a counselling intervention for burnout had a positive predictive effect on reduction in emotional exhaustion among doctors at work 3 years later. Sick leave thus seems to “prevent” later burnout, which can be of importance both for their patients and for the doctors themselves.
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