Dentists and physicians maintain positive job morale despite signs of burn-out
LONDON, UK: Positive job morale may boost employee satisfaction, improve work performance and foster good workplace relationships. Since a workforce with positive job morale is better able to improve healthcare, researchers have recently sought to evaluate the job morale among physicians and dentists working in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). They found that despite heavy workloads, unsatisfactory working conditions and low pay, more than half of the physicians and dentists in the study reported positive job morale.
“I used to work as a paediatric dentist in a public healthcare setting in my home country, Kazakhstan. I felt burnt out due to different service limitations, high workloads and insufficient financial compensation. The enthusiasm that I experienced while studying at medical university was gone, and I could not understand why,” co-author Dr Alina Sabitova, a PhD candidate at Queen Mary University of London, told Dental Tribune International
In the study, the researchers analysed three job morale indicators, namely job morale, job burn-out and job motivation, in 79 studies that included a total of 45,714 participants. They hypothesised that serious shortages, maldistribution and absenteeism in the health sector may have lowered the morale of dentists and physicians working in LMICs and that healthcare providers would have better job morale in high-income countries.
“In my research, I found that job morale was linked with better patient experiences of care, a higher number of healthcare providers being recruited and retained, and lower rates of sickness absence and staff turnover,” Sabitova explained.
The researchers reported that in 20 studies with 14,113 participants, 60% of dentists and physicians were generally satisfied with their jobs. In spite of the high job satisfaction, in 21 studies with 9,092 participants working mainly in middle-income countries, 32% of participants reported job burn-out. This confirms the findings of a previous survey reported on by Dental Tribune International that showed high levels of stress, burn-out and anxiety among dentists in the UK.
“According to the informal comparisons made in the systematic review and meta-analysis that we published, job burn-out was lower in LMICs than those found in high-income countries. Moreover, job satisfaction levels were comparatively similar, underlining that healthcare providers might have common satisfying and dissatisfying experiences all over the world,” Sabitova said.
Interestingly, the researchers also observed cultural differences among certain countries and regions that could affect job morale. “We observed variations in job satisfaction and job burn-out levels across different geographical regions which were not dependent on whether they were classified as high- or low-income. This could be related to cultural differences, but these have been scarcely explored in previous research; thus, we cannot make definite conclusions,” she said.
The data was insufficient for a meta-analysis of job motivation. Additionally, the current analysis only included three studies from low-income countries and should, therefore, be interpreted with caution.
The study, titled “Indicators associated with job morale among physicians and dentists in low-income and middle-income countries: A systematic review and meta-analysis”, was published online on 10 January 2020 in JAMA Network Open.