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Risk Factors, Self-compassion, and Burnout in Medical Students: Examining Relationships Through Path Analysis

Tara A Jarrett, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


Previous literature has established that medical students report high rates of burnout (Dyrbye et al., 2014; Dyrye et al., 2010a), a reaction to chronic stress characterized by emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, and a reduced sense of personal accomplishment (Maslach & Jackson, 1981; Maslach & Leiter, 2016). Previous research has also established that burnout is related to severe negative impacts for medical students, such as diminished professionalism and ethical conduct (Dyrbye et al., 2010a), diminished empathy (Dyrbye et al., 2010c), increased drop out risk (Dyrbye et al., 2010c), and increased suicidal ideation (Dyrbye et al., 2008). The purpose of the present study was to increase understanding about how burnout occurs in medical students and to explore self-compassion as a possible foundation for burnout interventions in this population. The present study examined relationships between perceived stress, perceived faculty support, perceived social support, maladaptive perfectionism, self-compassion, and burnout in medical students via path analysis. Burnout was found to be positively related to perceived stress and maladaptive perfectionism, but negatively related to perceived social support, perceived faculty support, and self-compassion. Self-compassion was also positively related to perceived social support, but negatively related to perceived stress and maladaptive perfectionism. Perceived faculty support was not related to self-compassion, contrary to expectations. Furthermore, the relationships between perceived stress and self-compassion, perceived social support and self-compassion, and maladaptive perfectionism and self-compassion predicted burnout in this sample. Model fit for two versions of the path model (one including social support and one excluding social support) was found to be adequate when the nonsignificant path between faculty support and self-compassion was constrained. Overall, the results suggest that self-compassion (and its relationships with other variables) plays an important role in the degree of burnout experienced by medical students, making self-compassion a highly interesting target for future interventions to be used with the medical student population.

Subject Area

Educational psychology|Counseling Psychology|Psychology

Recommended Citation

Jarrett, Tara A, "Risk Factors, Self-compassion, and Burnout in Medical Students: Examining Relationships Through Path Analysis" (2018). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI10842490.