The association between the levels of burnout and quality of life among fourth-year medical students at the University of the Free State
Background: Society invests huge financial resources in training medical students. However, the academic and personal demands placed on these students can be taxing and may be detrimental to students’ quality of life leading to high levels of burnout and academic dropout rates.
Aim: To determine the association between the levels of burnout and quality of life among fourth-year medical students at the University of the Free State (UFS).
Setting: School of Medicine, UFS, Bloemfontein.
Methods: All fourth-year medical students in their first semester of the clinical phase were included. Data were collected using anonymous self-report measures. The Maslach Burnout Inventory (MBI) measured the levels of burnout according to three subscales (emotional exhaustion, depersonalisation and personal achievement), and the World Health Organization Quality of Life Assessment (WHOQOL-BREF) measured the quality of life.
Results: Of the 121 enrolled fourth-year medical students, 91 (75.2%) completed the questionnaires. The MBI personal achievement subscale had the highest number of participants (n = 53; 58.2%) with high levels of reported burnout. Significant associations were found between the psychological health subscale of the WHOQOL-BREF and all three subscales of the MBI, in particular emotional exhaustion.
Conclusion: An association exists between the levels of burnout and quality of life among fourth-year medical students. This information could be of value to medical schools as they are in a position to implement interventions that promote students’ well-being.