Multimorbidity leads to general practitioners suffering burnout

January 23, 2020

There is a difference between seeing a patient with a catalogue of two or more serious chronic diseases and a healthy patient who just needs a prescription to treat a case of cystitis.

A new Danish study from the Research Unit for General Practice at Aarhus University, Denmark, shows that having many patients with multiple chronic diseases - known as multimorbidity - places general practitioners under mental strain. And to such a degree that they risk burnout. What's more, other studies have shown that the patients with multimorbidity also receive worse treatment in the healthcare system.

The study is based on previous research showing that there are increasing numbers of patients with multimorbidity, meaning that the prevalence of GPs with symptoms of a lack of well-being and a risk of burnout is also increasing.

This is the conclusion of Anette Fischer Pedersen, who is senior researcher at the Research Unit for General Practice and an associate professor at the Department of Clinical Medicine at Aarhus University. She is heading the current study, which has just been published in the scientific journal British Journal of General Practice.

"One of our findings in the study is that among the quarter of general practitioners who had the fewest number of patients with multimorbidity in 2016, seven per cent had what we call full burnout syndrome. This contrasts with the figure of twelve per cent among the quarter who had the highest number of patients with multimorbidity.

"She believes that the result shows the importance of looking closely at the working conditions of general practitioners.

"As things are today in the context of general practitioners' time and remuneration, there is often no difference between treating a patient with a long and complex history of illness and a normally healthy patient who is there to get treatment for an uncomplicated illness. This puts general practitioners under a lot of pressure," says Anette Fischer Pedersen.

One of the focal points of the study is that it documents the correlation between the number of patients with multimorbidity and the well-being of GPs - or lack of well-being, which was pronounced when the proportion of patients with multimorbidity was high.

According to Anette Fischer Pedersen, the challenge cannot only be solved by general practitioners allocating more time to complex patients within the framework that general practice works under today.

"It's no secret that there are areas in Denmark where there's a lower level of public health than in others. This may mean it will be difficult to get GPs to work in areas where the need for competent medical treatment is highest, simply because working there is an unattractive proposition. If we're determined to work towards reducing the risk of burnout among general practitioners, we will also help to prevent inequality in health," she says.

Since 2004, the Research Unit for General Practice at the Department of Public Health at Aarhus University has carried out a number of research studies into burnout among general practitioners. In 2016, the researchers were responsible for a major study in collaboration with the Organization of General Practitioners in Denmark, in which the degree of burnout among general practitioners was measured using the Maslach Burnout Inventory method. At the time, 50.7 per cent of Denmark's 3,350 general practitioners participated in the study.

Aarhus University

Related Public Health Articles from Brightsurf:

COVID-19 and the decolonization of Indigenous public health
Indigenous self-determination, leadership and knowledge have helped protect Indigenous communities in Canada during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, and these principles should be incorporated into public health in future, argue the authors of a commentary in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal)

Public health consequences of policing homelessness
In a new study examining homelessness, researchers find that policy such a lifestyle has massive public health implications, making sleeping on the street even MORE unhealthy.

Electronic health information exchange improves public health disease reporting
Disease tracking is an important area of focus for health departments in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Pandemic likely to cause long-term health problems, Yale School of Public Health finds
The coronavirus pandemic's life-altering effects are likely to result in lasting physical and mental health consequences for many people--particularly those from vulnerable populations--a new study led by the Yale School of Public Health finds.

The Lancet Public Health: US modelling study estimates impact of school closures for COVID-19 on US health-care workforce and associated mortality
US policymakers considering physical distancing measures to slow the spread of COVID-19 face a difficult trade-off between closing schools to reduce transmission and new cases, and potential health-care worker absenteeism due to additional childcare needs that could ultimately increase mortality from COVID-19, according to new modelling research published in The Lancet Public Health journal.

The Lancet Public Health: Access to identification documents reflecting gender identity may improve trans mental health
Results from a survey of over 20,000 American trans adults suggest that having access to identification documents which reflect their identified gender helps to improve their mental health and may reduce suicidal thoughts, according to a study published in The Lancet Public Health journal.

The Lancet Public Health: Study estimates mental health impact of welfare reform, Universal Credit, in Great Britain
The 2013 Universal Credit welfare reform appears to have led to an increase in the prevalence of psychological distress among unemployed recipients, according to a nationally representative study following more than 52,000 working-age individuals from England, Wales, and Scotland over nine years between 2009-2018, published as part of an issue of The Lancet Public Health journal on income and health.

BU researchers: Pornography is not a 'public health crisis'
Researchers from the Boston University School of Public Health (BUSPH) have written an editorial in the American Journal of Public Health special February issue arguing against the claim that pornography is a public health crisis, and explaining why such a claim actually endangers the health of the public.

The Lancet Public Health: Ageism linked to poorer health in older people in England
Ageism may be linked with poorer health in older people in England, according to an observational study of over 7,500 people aged over 50 published in The Lancet Public Health journal.

Study: Public transportation use linked to better public health
Promoting robust public transportation systems may come with a bonus for public health -- lower obesity rates.

Read More: Public Health News and Public Health Current Events is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to