Original Research

Medical registrars at the University of the Free State: Burnout, resilience and coping strategies

Lynette J. van der Merwe, Nakedi Motlapema, Tsiu Matsepe, Karabo Nchepe, Pearl Ramachela, Tshilidzi Rangolo, Zizipho Kutu, Gina Joubert, Cornel van Rooyen
South African Family Practice | Vol 65, No 1 : Part 4| a5788 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/safp.v65i1.5788 | © 2023 Lynette J. van der Merwe, Nakedi Motlapema, Tsiu Matsepe, Karabo Nchepe, Pearl Ramachela, Tshilidzi Rangolo, Zizipho Kutu, Gina Joubert, Cornel van Rooyen | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 19 June 2023 | Published: 15 December 2023

About the author(s)

Lynette J. van der Merwe, Division of Health Sciences Education, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa
Nakedi Motlapema, Division of Health Sciences Education, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa
Tsiu Matsepe, Division of Health Sciences Education, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa
Karabo Nchepe, Division of Health Sciences Education, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa
Pearl Ramachela, Division of Health Sciences Education, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa
Tshilidzi Rangolo, Division of Health Sciences Education, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa
Zizipho Kutu, Division of Health Sciences Education, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa
Gina Joubert, Department of Biostatistics, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa
Cornel van Rooyen, Department of Biostatistics, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa

Abstract

Background: Burnout among doctors has been linked with decreased quality of patient care. The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic highlighted the need to protect doctors’ mental health and well-being. This study aimed to investigate burnout, resilience and coping strategies among registrars in the MMed programme of the University of the Free State (UFS) in 2020.

Methods: In this quantitative, cross-sectional study, a link to an online anonymous self-administered questionnaire with socio-demographic questions, perceived stress, Copenhagen Burnout Inventory (CBI), Connor-Davidson Resilience Scale and Brief Cope was emailed to all 278 registrars.

Results: Sixty registrars responded (response rate 21.6%). More than half (55.0%) were male and 73.3% were married. There were 28.3% second- and third-year students, respectively. Most (58.3%) had 5–10 years’ work experience. The CBI personal scale had the highest median value (58.3; interquartile range [IQR]: 43.3; 70.8) with 70% scoring ≥ 50. The median score for resilience was 78 of 100 (IQR: 69; 84). There were weak negative correlations between resilience and burnout scores (r = –0.31 to r = –0.37). Planning, positive reframing and acceptance were the most frequently used adaptive coping mechanisms; self-distraction was the most frequently used maladaptive coping mechanism. There was no association between gender and burnout and resilience scores.

Conclusion: Registrars were resilient with low levels of patient- and work-related burnout, and higher personal burnout, using mostly positive coping strategies.

Contribution: This study gives insight into the well-being of registrars at the UFS during COVID-19. Continuous monitoring and support for this population are essential to foster mental health and well-being.


Keywords

resilience; burnout; maladaptive coping strategies; adaptive coping strategies; postgraduate training; junior doctor; mental health.

Sustainable Development Goal

Goal 3: Good health and well-being

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