Burnout and the challenges facing pharmacists during COVID-19: results of a national survey

Karlee Johnston, Claire L. O’Reilly, Brett Scholz, Ekavi N. Georgousopoulou, Imogen Mitchell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

59 Citations (Scopus)


Background COVID-19 has impacted the psychological wellbeing of healthcare workers and has forced pharmacists to adapt their services. Objective To measure burnout and describe the work and psychosocial factors affecting pharmacists during COVID-19, and to compare males and females. Setting An online survey was distributed to a convenience sample of pharmacists practicing in any setting in Australia during April and June 2020. Method The survey collected demographic data, burnout scores using the validated Maslach Burnout Inventory (MBI), psychosocial and work-related variables using questions adapted from previous surveys. It was tested for readability by a group of pharmacists and academic clinicians before distribution via social media and professional organisations. Main outcome measure Burnout was calculated using mean MBI scores, descriptive statistics were used to report work and psychosocial variables and Pearson’s chi-square compared males and females. Results Overall, 647 responses were analysed. Most participants were female n = 487 (75.7%) with hospital n = 269 (42.2%) and community n = 253 (39.9%) pharmacists well represented. Mean (SD) for emotional exhaustion (possible range 0–54) and depersonalisation (possible range 0–30) were 28.5 (13.39) and 7.98 (5.64), which were higher (increased burnout) than reported pre-COVID-19. Personal accomplishment (range 0–48, lower scores associated with burnout) mean (SD) 36.58 (7.56), was similar to previously reported. Males reported higher depersonalisation indicating more withdrawal and cynicism. Working overtime, medication supply and patient incivility were reported to affect work. Conclusion Pharmacists are experiencing burnout, with work and psychosocial factors affecting them during COVID-19. Knowledge of this and that males experience more depersonalisation is valuable to inform advocacy and interventions to support pharmacists.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)716-725
Number of pages10
JournalInternational Journal of Clinical Pharmacy
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2021
Externally publishedYes


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