A GP writes notes at a desk

Burnout, psychological wellbeing and musculoskeletal complaints in general practitioners

GPs reported high levels of burnout and musculoskeletal complaints, while psychological wellbeing was low. Burnout was lower in GPs who met current physical activity guidelines.

We emailed an online survey to 14,142 members of the Royal College of General Practitioners and shared on social media and 445 replied. Only GPs working in the UK were eligible to respond. The survey included questions on burnout, psychological wellbeing and musculoskeletal complaints, as well as questions asking about current participation in physical activity and time spent sedentary each day. 

A high proportion of GPs reported experiencing burnout (36%) and musculoskeletal complaints (89.9%), but these health concerns were less evident in GPs who spent less time in prolonged sitting, took more breaks in sitting and who were more physically active. With increasing demands on primary health care, there should be consideration of how working practices might negatively impact the health and wellbeing of GPs, and how workplace initiatives could be used to encourage GPs to be more physically active.

What next?

It is important to examine ways to encourage GPs to be more physically active, as well as creating a working environment that is less conducive to sitting. This will be particularly important if remote consultations are to continue to be a large part of how GPs consult with their patients, and the demands on primary health care services continues to increase.

Citation details

Biddle GJH, Thomas N, Edwardson CL, Clemes SA, Daley AJ. Burnout, psychological wellbeing and musculoskeletal complaints in general practitioners. BJGP Open. 2023. DOI: 10.3399/BJGPO.2023.0007


The authors would like to thank all the GPs who completed the study questionnaire. Also, our thanks go to the RCGP who facilitated and organised data collection processes. 

Amanda Daley is supported by a National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Research Professorship award. All authors are supported by the NIHR Leicester Biomedical Research Centre – Lifestyle theme. The views expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of the NHS, the NIHR or the Department of Health and Social Care.

Find out more about our work in the prevention and treatment of chronic diseases

Our researchers

Amanda Daley

Professor Amanda Daley

Professor of Behavioural Medicine, Centre Director