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Zlata Ožvačić Adžić, Milica Katić, Josipa Kern, Jean Karl Soler, Venija Cerovečki and Ozren Polašek

The impact of physician burnout on the quality of patient care is unclear. This cross-sectional study aimed to investigate the prevalence of burnout in family physicians in Croatia and its association with physician and practice characteristics, and patient enablement as a consultation outcome measure.

Hundred and twenty-five out of 350 family physicians responded to our invitation to participate in the study. They were asked to collect data from 50 consecutive consultations with their adult patients who had to provide information on patient enablement (Patient Enablement Instrument). Physicians themselves provided their demographic and professional data, including workload, job satisfaction, consultation length, and burnout [Maslach Burnout Inventory - Human Services Survey (MBI-HSS )]. MBI-HSS scores were analysed in three dimensions: emotional exhaustion (EE), depersonalisation (DP), and personal accomplishment (PA).

Of the responding physicians, 42.4 % scored high for EE burnout, 16.0 % for DP, and 15.2 % for PA. Multiple regression analysis showed that low job satisfaction and more patients per day predicted high EE scores. Low job satisfaction, working more years at a current workplace, and younger age predicted high DP scores. Lack of engagement in education and academic work, shorter consultations, and working more years at current workplace predicted low PA scores, respectively (P<0.05 for each).

Burnout is common among family physicians in Croatia yet burnout in our physicians was not associated with patient enablement, suggesting that it did not affect the quality of interpersonal care. Job satisfaction, participation in educational or academic activities and sufficient consultation time seem to reduce the likelihood of burnout.