Exploration of Mistreatment and Burnout Among Resident Physicians: a Cross-Specialty Observational Study

Michelle Y. Cheng, Stacey L. Neves, Julie Rainwater, Jenny Z. Wang, Parastoo Davari, Emanual Maverakis, Margaret Rea, Mark Servis, Jim Nuovo, Nasim Fazel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: Resident physician mistreatment and burnout are widespread issues in medical training, but the association between the two remains unclear. This study examines the prevalence and types of mistreatment among resident physicians in core specialties and its association with burnout syndrome as well as feelings of depression/anxiety. Methods: A cross-sectional, survey-based observational study of medical residents was conducted at the University of California, Davis Medical Center in 2014. Current residents (PGY2 or higher) in the internal medicine, family medicine, obstetrics/gynecology, surgery, and pediatrics programs completed anonymous questionnaires addressing topics such as workplace mistreatment, feelings of depression/anxiety, and stress management. Burnout was measured using the Maslach Burnout Inventory. Results: Forty-four out of 105 residents (41.9%) witnessed mistreatment of their co-residents while 26 residents (24.8%) disclosed personal accounts of mistreatment. Seventy-one percent of residents met the criteria for burnout. Residents who had been personally mistreated were almost eight times more likely to report burnout (OR 7.6, 95% CI = 1.7–34.4) and almost four times more likely to report symptoms of anxiety and depression (OR 3.8, 95% CI = 1.6–9.1). Public belittlement or humiliation was the most common type of mistreatment. Conclusion: Encountering mistreatment was associated with higher rates of burnout, as well as depression/anxiety. While it is uncertain if mistreatment in the workplace has a causative impact on burnout syndrome, the findings reveal the need to address work-related environmental factors that may contribute to both resident physician mistreatment and burnout.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalMedical Science Educator
StateAccepted/In press - Jan 1 2020


  • Depression
  • Medical education
  • Mistreatment
  • Resident physician burnout

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Education


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