last updated:26/05/2020 @ 2:38 pm

Emotion regulation and burnout in doctors: A systematic review

Author: Jackson-Koku, G

Year: 2018


Burnout is a pervasive health condition which affects many doctors at various stages in their careers. It is characterised by emotional exhaustion, depersonalisation and a reduced sense of personal accomplishment. Left unmanaged, it can result in significant personal and professional consequences for doctors, and place patient care at risk. This systematic review reports on studies in doctors on the role of emotion regulation in burnout.


To examine the relationship between emotion regulation and burnout among doctors in the workplace.


Four online databases (Psych Info 1833-2017, Medline 1928-2017, Scopus 1960-2017 and Embase 1974-2017 were searched. Searches returned 15,539 citations, which after de-duplication yielded 12,295 citations. After title and abstracts screening 12,273 citations were excluded. Twenty-two full text articles were read and 8 excluded because of ineligibility. Following data extraction, bias and methodological quality assessment, data was synthesised using descriptive analysis and findings presented according to relevant themes.


Findings showed that a predictive and correlative relationship exists between emotion regulation and burnout in doctors. Additionally, findings indicated that the use of self-regulatory or taught emotion regulation skills/interventions such as mindfulness were associated with a reduction in professional burnout.


Emotion regulation plays an important role in the development of professional burnout. Practically, these findings are likely to be relevant in policy development aimed at developing targeted emotion regulation training programmes for doctors, to help prevent and manage professional burnout.

Future research directions:

Essential future areas of future investigation would include the further elucidation of the mechanisms by which positive emotions help doctors cope better with occupational stress and burnout.

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Published: 26/05/2020