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An assessment of professional burnout within the pharmacist profession: A comparative study of Kuwait and the UK

   Faculty of Life Sciences

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  Prof Liz Breen, Dr Beth Fylan  Applications accepted all year round  Self-Funded PhD Students Only

About the Project

Depression or nervous breakdown were originally used to express professional exhaustion resulted from stress until the 1970s when Freudenberger introduced burnout as a clinical complex to replace those terms (Felton, 1998). Burnout can be defined as “a prolonged response to chronic emotional and interpersonal stressors on the job, and is defined by the three dimensions of exhaustion, cynicism, and inefficacy” (Maslach, Schaufeli, & Leiter, 2001:397). Studies have investigated the effects of burnout mostly among nurses. They found out that most nurses experience job burnout affecting themselves, colleagues and patients (Cilliers, 2003). Recently, the effect of burnout among physicians has also been investigated. Johnson, Bu & Panagiotti (2018) assert that there is increasing evidence indicates that doctor wellbeing is a marker of the quality of care delivered to patients. Studies show that increased burnout in physicians can be linked to low professionalism (Johnson, Bu & Panagiotti, 2018) and patient safety issues such as an increase in medical errors and suboptimal patient care (Shanafelt, Bradley, Wipf, & Back, 2002; West, Huschka, Novotny, & et al., 2006). There is less evidence of studies examining burnout among hospital pharmacists.

The pharmacist role in patient care and ensuring patient safety has increased greatly and that place them at risk of burnout as much as other healthcare professionals. A study in the US showed that 61.2% if hospital clinical pharmacists were experiencing burnout caused by high emotional exhaustion. The study also showed that pharmacists with stable relationships and children where more exposed to burnout (Jones, Roe, Louden, & Tubbs, 2017). Similarly, a study in the UK revealed that pharmacists have work/life balance problems specially the ones with responsibilities such as caring for children (Seston & Hassell, 2014). Additionally, a cross-sectional study of psychological distress and burnout in hospital pharmacists in Japan also showed that there is a high prevalence of work-related burnout among pharmacists (Higuchi et al., 2016). High levels of burnout among hospital pharmacists were also shown in Australia based on emotional exhaustion and personal accomplishment (Muir & Bortoletto, 2007). Moreover, community pharmacists were also shown to suffer from job burnout in Serbia, France and Turkey (Balayssac et al., 2017; Calgan, Aslan, & Yegenoglu, 2011; Jocic & Krajnovic, 2014). In the UK, a study was conducted to assess the burnout levels in community pharmacists showed that most community pharmacists experience job burnout (Thomas, 2011).

However, there is a dearth of academic studies that have assessed burnout among hospital pharmacists in the UK. Similarly, there are no studies conducted in the Arab world or the Gulf to assess burnout levels among pharmacists (Elbarazi, Loney, Yousef, & Elias, 2017). This study aims to assess burnout levels among hospital pharmacists in Kuwait and the UK. A mixed methodological approach will be adopted for this study and data will be collected from multiple sites across UK and Kuwait.

Applicants should have a Pharmacy or Applied Healthcare/Psychology/Human Factors background. The focus of this study, burnout, is one that continues to affect all professions, so clearly more research is warranted in this area. We aim to provide detailed insights and design an intervention to support hospital pharmacists so they can deliver their role professionally and safely and reduce further risk to themselves and patients.

Funding Notes

This is a self-funded PhD project; applicants will be expected to pay their own fees or have a suitable source of third-party funding. A fee to support conference attendance to disseminate study outputs applies in addition to tuition fees. This will be £3-5,000 over the lifetime of the study.


Felton, J. S. (1998). Burnout as a clinical entity—its importance in health care workers. Occupational Medicine, 48(4), 237-250. doi:10.1093/occmed/48.4.237
Maslach, C., Schaufeli, W. B., & Leiter, M. P. (2001). Job Burnout. Annual Review of Psychology, 52(1), 397-422. doi:10.1146/annurev.psych.52.1.397
Cilliers, F. (2003). Burnout and salutogenic functioning of nurses.
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