Year: 2017 Source: Work & Stress, 30(2), 173-192. SIEC No: 20170373

The aim of this article is to analyze further the association of burnout with (poor) physical
health, addictive behaviors and suicidal tendency among general practitioners (GPs). Four
hypotheses were studied: burnout (i.e. emotional exhaustion, EE, and depersonalization, DP) is
positively associated with suicidal tendency (i.e. ideation, plan and attempt) (H1), is negatively
related to physical health (i.e. large number of physical symptoms and appearance of longlasting
impairment) (H2) and positively linked to addictive behaviors (i.e. addiction to alcohol
and psychotropic medication) (H3) of GPs. Based on the “spiral of losses” depicted by the
conservation of resources theory, we also considered that physical health mediates the
relationships of burnout/suicidal tendency and burnout/addictive behaviors (H4). 1890 French
GPs completed a questionnaire administered by phone. Collected information referred
especially to burnout, three physical health indicators (BMI, number of physical symptoms and
lasting physical health problems), four health behaviors (consumption of tobacco, alcohol,
anxiolytics and antidepressants) and suicidal tendency (ideation, plan and attempt). Concerning
EE, the results supported the hypotheses, except for alcohol consumption. The findings showed
that DP favored positive outcomes when controlling for exhaustion. The discussion focuses
mainly on the difference between EE and DP and on the limitations of the study.