Almost half of all physicians are suffering from at least one symptom of burnout, according to a Mayo Clinic study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine.
Physicians in specialties at the front line of care access, including emergency medicine, general internal medicine and family medicine, are at the greatest risk of burnout. Long working hours contributing to greater struggles with work-life integration is a key contributor to the problem, the study finds.
The national survey of 7,288 physicians from all specialty disciplines found that 45.8 percent of physicians reported at least one symptom of burnout. Results included the following statistics:
- 37.9 percent of U.S. physicians had high emotional exhaustion;
- 29.4 percent had high depersonalization; and
- 12.4 percent had a low sense of personal accomplishment.
Differences in burnout also varied by specialty with emergency medicine, general internal medicine, neurology and family medicine having the highest rates, and pathology, dermatology, general pediatrics and preventive medicine having the lowest rates, according to the study.
When compared with 3,442 working U.S. adults, physicians were more likely to have symptoms of burnout (37.9 percent vs. 27.8 percent) and to be dissatisfied with their work-life balance (40.2 percent vs. 23.2 percent), the study found.
Other studies have suggested that burnout may influence the quality of care and increase the risk for medical errors, as well as have adverse effects on physicians, including broken relationships, problem drinking and suicidal thoughts, according to the study background.
Researchers suggest more work needs to be done to understand physician burnout and develop interventions to improve patient care.
Source: JAMA, August 20, 2012
In Guide to Physician Engagement deconstructs the physician culture and suggests tactics for converting reluctant physicians into champions for healthcare improvement. Q&A chapter answers more than 40 questions on the engagement of physicians.