Last edited 03/2021 and last reviewed 03/2021

In 1992, the BMA book Stress in the Medical Profession defined many GPs' feelings as 'burnout' - a syndrome of emotional exhaustion, depersonalisation, reduced productivity and feelings of low achievement.

There are various features of burnout. No one symptom should be taken in isolation.

Possible features of burnout include:

  • guilt at taking time off work
  • minimising contact with patients
  • excessive discussions about past mistakes
  • excessive discussion about future workload
  • becoming cross with a colleague or employee at least once per day
  • drinking alcohol before working
  • inability to concentrate on the matter in hand
  • emotional exhaustion


  • Makin PJ et al (1988). JRCGP, 38, 303-6.
  • Sunderland VJ, Cooper VL (1992). BMJ, 304, 1545-8.
  • Report of the RCGP (1994). Revaluing General Practice.