Are burnout levels increasing? The experience of Israeli primary care physicians

Talma Kushnir, Carol Levhar, Avner Herman Cohen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


Background: Burnout is a professional occupational disease that puts both physicians and patients at risk. Triggered by the increase in burnout levels among physicians, the European Forum of Medical Associations and the World Health Organization issued a statement in February 2003 expressing serious concerns about the situation, urging all national medical associations to increase awareness of the problem, monitor it and study its causes in order to develop preventive strategies. Objectives: To compare burnout levels in two separate samples of primary care physicians measured in the mid-1990s, with burnout levels in a similar but small and independent sample, assessed in 2001; and to outline the theoretical bases of burnout. Methods: Altogether, 508 primary care physicians employed by Clalit Health Services responded anonymously to a self-report questionnaire. The samples were not representative and included family physicians, pediatricians and clinic directors. Results: Burnout levels were significantly higher in the 2001 sample than in the mid-1990s samples, especially among clinic directors. Conclusions: Despite methodologic limitations of the study, the findings suggest that burnout levels may be increasing among primary care physicians in Israel. This may be due to substantial increases in workload and role conflicts following implementation of the Health Insurance Law and Patients' Rights Act. Because these findings are consistent with the trend in Europe, this situation cannot be ignored and systematic studies of burnout among all medical specialties should be carried out to uncover current sources of the syndrome and to devise measures of prevention and treatment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)451-455
Number of pages5
JournalIsrael Medical Association Journal
Issue number8
StatePublished - 1 Aug 2004


  • Burnout
  • Clinic directors
  • Family physicians
  • Pediatricians
  • Stress


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