Role of Stress in Burnout among Students of Medicine and Dentistry – A Study in Ljubljana, Slovenia, Faculty of Medicine

Tina Krokter Kogoj, Zdenka Čebašek-Travnik, Lijana Zaletel-Kragelj


Medical education is challenging, but for some students it can be very stressful. Studies suggest that stress during medical education can have a negative impact on students’ mental health and that burnout is frequent among medical school students. The aim of this study was to measure burnout among students of medicine/dentistry (M/D) at the Faculty of Medicine, University of Ljubljana, Slovenia, in relation to their perception of stress, so as to enable planning preventative activities for students at risk. The data were collected in a cross-sectional study, carried out in spring 2008 among the total population of M/D students of 1st, 3rd, 4th and 6th year, using a self-administered online questionnaire. Oldenburg Burnout Inventory (OLBI) instrument was used. Separate burnout scores were calculated for the exhaustion and disengagement dimensions of burnout, and related to students’ perception of stress. Multiple linear regression method was carried out to adjust the association estimates for several potential confounders (gender, study program, relationship status, and grade). The overall response rate was 47.2%, and a total of 476 students participated. Students scored higher on exhaustion than on disengagement dimension - the mean value of burnout scores on the exhaustion dimension scale was -1.68, while it was -4.58 on the disengagement dimension scale. The results showed a statistically significant difference between high and low risk-for-stress groups of students in both burnout dimensions (average value of burnout scores on the exhaustion scale: high risk-for-stress group -3.69, low risk-for-stress group 0.19, p<0.001; average value of burnout scores on the disengagement scale: high risk-for-stress group -5.57, low risk-for-stress group -3.65, p<0.001). After adjustment for potential confounders differences on both burnout subscales remained almost unchanged. Results confirmed our hypothesis that M/D students of Ljubljana Faculty of Medicine who frequently experience stress (especially those with poor coping mechanisms), exhibit higher degree of burnout.


burnout, stress, medicine students, dentistry students

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