Project Background

Welcome to the online Project site for the Canadian Association Of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons Research study entitled, Professional burnout among Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons. This site was designed to enable you to respond to a series of short surveys online. Completion of the surveys should take about 10 to 15 minutes of your time.

The study is being conducted by:
Dr. Bruce Pynn, DDS, Principal Investigator
Dr. William Montelpare, PhD., University of Prince Edward Island
You have been invited to participate in this research study, which is intending to measure characteristics of burnout in Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons in Canada. Please read this document carefully before you decide whether you want to participate in this study.

You are free to ask questions at any time before, during or after you agree to participate in this study. You can contact William Montelpare by telephone at (902) 620-5186, or by e-mail at: He will do his best to respond to each of your questions.

Summary Abstract*

Burnout is a syndrome defined by the work-related triad of high emotional exhaustion, high depersonalization and a low sense of personal accomplishment. Emotional exhaustion is the feeling of being emotionally overextended and exhausted by one’s work. Depersonalization is the adoption of a callous or dehumanized perception of others. Low personal accomplishment is the feeling of dissatisfaction with one’s job-related achievements.

Burnout in the physician population not only can lead to professional and personal dysfunction but can also lead to negative effects on their patient population.

One of the unfortunate paradoxes of professional burnout is that those most susceptible to burnout appear to be the most dedicated, conscientious, motivated and responsible. It is these types of individuals who are idealistic and have perfectionist qualities that can lead them into diving into their work to the point of having nothing left in reserve to give to their personal life.

Surgeons have a high risk of professional burnout as their commitment to patients, attention to detail, and recognizing the responsibility of earning patients’ trust place them at greater risk for burnout.

Surgeons choose to change the lives of individuals facing serious health problems, to experience the feeling of being successful in healing through their interventions. They hold a person’s life in their hands each and every day and as such have significant burden on themselves to be the best they can in their field. Despite its virtues, a career in surgery brings with it significant challenges, which can in turn lead to substantial personal distress for the surgeon and their family. Little is known about the experiences of the spouses or significant others of these surgeons and the levels of burnout and psychological distress that they may also be experiencing.

Many professions have used the Maslach Burnout Inventory Human Services Study (MBI-HSS) survey to quantify the burnout phenomenon.5-7 Previous studies have examined the problem of physician burnout and found that it is prevalent in many fields of medicine, thus the value behind identifying physician burnout and its correlated risk factors lies in the potential to modify those risk factors and prevent the development of burnout as well as its consequences on patient care.

Purpose of the Study

The purpose of the study is to utilize study results of burnout in one of the highest volume trauma services, that being oral and maxillofacial surgery, and evaluate if these results can be generalizable across trauma services or are there distinct differences or features per service. Our purpose is also to support positive health initiatives by raising awareness and improving understanding of the importance of this populations’ emotional, psychosocial and mental well-being.

The research study will also help to reduce the stigma associated with a surgeon’s mental health issues and it is anticipated that with the data received, new activities related to mental health for physicians will be developed. It is anticipated that the outcomes of such a study will expand across the boundaries of all health professionals, not just the targeted surgeon population identified in this particular study. With the additional research being done on this population, added to already existing research studies done with other health professional groups, much needed evidence-based interventions to address physician distress at both the individual and organizational level will be identified to benefit the individual surgeon and the patients they care for.

It is also anticipated that with the results of the study, combined with research already completed on other sample professions, that a proactive approach could be established rather than reacting to burnout after it has damaged one’s professional and personal wellness. As a positive outcome to identifying a proactive approach to preventing burnout in the target population, the rates of early retirement due to the stressors of the profession would also be positively affected with this target group staying longer in their chosen field.

*Appropriate bibliographic citations are available upon request.