A recent study (T Shanafelt et al. Mayo Clin Proc. 2015;90(12):1600-1613) indicates that there may be increasing rates of physicians with “Professional Burnout.” The study is limited by suboptimal response rates but provides some useful information on this topic.
Results: Of the 35,922 physicians who received an invitation to participate, 6880 (19.2%) completed surveys. When assessed using the Maslach Burnout Inventory, 54.4% (n=3680) of the physicians reported at least 1 symptom of burnout in 2014 compared with 45.5% (n=3310) in 2011 (P<.001). Satisfaction with work-life balance also declined in physicians between 2011 and 2014 (48.5% vs 40.9%; P<.001). Substantial differences in rates of burnout and satisfaction with work-life balance were observed by specialty. In contrast to the trends in physicians, minimal changes in burnout or satisfaction with work-life balance were observed between 2011 and 2014 in probability-based samples of working US adults, resulting in an increasing disparity in burnout and satisfaction with work-life balance in physicians relative to the general US working population. After pooled multivariate analysis adjusting for age, sex, relationship status, and hours worked per week, physicians remained at an increased risk of burnout (odds ratio, 1.97; 95% CI, 1.80-2.16; P<.001) and were less likely to be satisfied with work-life balance (odds ratio, 0.68; 95% CI, 0.62-0.75; P<.001).
The indices that the authors studied included measures of the following (Table 2):
- Emotional exhaustion
- Personal Accomplishment
- Depression: 38% (2011) –>39% (2014)
- Suicidal ideation: 6.4% (2011) and 6.4% (2014)
- Burned out rate: 45.5% (2011) –>54.4% (2014)
- Career satisfaction (would become a doctor again): 70% (2011) –>67% (2014)
Satisfaction with work life balance (Figure 1):
- Pediatrics generally better than other fields, but close to 50% in 2014 were not satisfied compared with about 40% in 2011 (P <.05).
Take-home message from authors:
Burnout and satisfaction with WLB among US physicians are getting worse. American medicine appears to be at a tipping point with more than half of US physicians experiencing professional burnout. Given the extensive evidence that burnout among physicians has effects on quality of care, patient satisfaction, turnover, and patient safety, these findings have important implications for society at large. 11-20. There is an urgent need for systematic application of evidence-based interventions addressing the drivers of burnout among physicians. These interventions must address contributing factors in the practice environment rather than focusing exclusively on helping physicians care for themselves and training them to be more resilient.
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