The influence of sleep quality and burnout on the career intentions of family physicians


Pat Smith, Chuck Samuels, Andrew Cave, Marta Shaw, Carmen Thompson, Neil Drummond




Marta Shaw at, 403.210.9259

Participant Recruitment


Manuscript Submitted




The prevalence of physician burnout is a substantial problem in the medical profession. Of the conditions that contribute to burnout, long work hours, chronic sleep deprivation, sleep disturbance and fatigue are potentially modifiable variables that may also influence career choices, such as the decision to change practice style or take early retirement.


This pilot study uses a mixed methods design, combining survey, focus group, and objective actigraphy data to explore an hypothesized relationship between sleep factors, burnout, mood disturbance, and career intentions, for family physicians.

This research will provide baseline data regarding the relationship between sleep factors, burnout and career intentions, and will inform the methodology of a planned national study further exploring the topic. The results of this research will also provide policy makers with information to guide development of recruitment/retention strategies and wellness programs for family physicians. To our knowledge, this is one of the first studies to investigate the relationship between sleep factors, burnout, and career intentions for this population.


PARTICIPANTS: A sample of family physicians working in the Calgary area, conducting at least 8 sessions each week in an office based context, and providing full-service family medicine.

METHODS: Potential participants will be provided a link to an electronic questionnaire consisting of validated instruments designed to assess sleep quality, burnout, mood, and career intentions. 

Actigraphy will be used to objectively monitor sleep, wake, and rest cycles in a subset of 24 randomly sampled family physicians selected from among those who completed the on-line questionnaire. In addition, focus groups will be conducted with a subsample of 24 purposefully selected participants to discuss the relationship between sleep quality, clinical functioning, professional and personal quality of life, and future career planning.

ANALYSIS: Chi-square, t-tests, regression, and correlation analysis will be used to assess relationships between objective and subjective measures of sleep quality and between sleep quality, burnout, mood, and career intentions. Thematic analysis of the focus group data will be used to identify considerations in the design of policies and practices related to recruitment and retention of family physicians.


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