Nav: Home

Physicians and burnout: It's getting worse

December 01, 2015

ROCHESTER, Minn. -- Burnout among U.S. physicians is getting worse. An update from a three-year study evaluating burnout and work-life balance shows that American physicians are worse off today than they were three years earlier. These dimensions remained largely unchanged among U.S. workers in general, resulting in a widening gap between physicians and workers in other fields. The study conducted by Mayo Clinic researchers in partnership with the American Medical Association compared data from 2014 to metrics they collected in 2011 and found that now more than half of U.S. physicians are experiencing professional burnout. The findings appear in Mayo Clinic Proceedings.

"Burnout manifests as emotional exhaustion, loss of meaning in work, and feelings of ineffectiveness," says Tait Shanafelt, M.D. "What we found is that more physicians in almost every specialty are feeling this way and that's not good for them, their families, the medical profession, or patients."

The researchers say evidence indicates that burnout leads to poor care, physician turnover and a decline in the overall quality of the health care system. In the 2011 survey 45 percent of physicians met the burnout criteria, with highest rates occurring in the "front lines" -- general internal medicine, family medicine and emergency medicine. In 2014, 54 percent of responding physicians had at least one symptom of burnout. Satisfaction with work-life balance also declined. The survey results were based on 6,880 physicians across the United States, a 19 percent response rate, as well as a population based sample of 5313 working U.S. adults in other fields.

In a snapshot:
  • Physician burnout is up 10 percent over the last three years

  • Burnout rates are up across almost all specialties

  • No overall increase in physician work hours was reported

  • No increase in rates of depression was observed among physicians

Researchers say the problem of physician burnout is largely a system issue and that health care organizations have a shared responsibility in addressing the problem. They say more needs to be done by healthcare organizations to help physicians by improving the efficiency of the practice environment, reducing clerical burden, and providing physicians greater flexibility and control over work.

What must be done:
  • Urgent need for research to provide "evidence-based interventions" addressing burnout, including improving efficiency

  • Factors in the practice or work environment have to change

  • Offering self-help solutions is no longer enough

-end-
The Mayo Clinic Program on Physician Well-being funded the research. Co-authors include Lotte Dyrbye, M.D., Daniel Satele, Jeff Sloan, Ph.D., and Colin West, M.D., Ph.D., of Mayo Clinic; and Omar Hasan M.B.B.S. and Christine Sinsky, M.D., of the American Medical Association.

MEDIA CONTACT: Bob Nellis, Mayo Clinic Public Affairs, 507-284-5005, Email: newsbureau@mayo.edu

Mayo Clinic

Related Physicians Articles:

Physicians call for an end to conversion therapy
Historically, conversion therapies have used electroshock therapy, chemical drugs, hormone administrations and even surgery.
Racial bias associated with burnout among resident physicians
Symptoms of physician burnout appear to be associated with greater bias toward black people in this study of nearly 3,400 second-year resident physicians in the United States who identified as nonblack.
Survey finds physicians struggle with their own self-care
Despite believing that self-care is a vitally important part of health and overall well-being, many physicians overlook their own self-care, according to a new survey released today, conducted by The Harris Poll on behalf of Samueli Integrative Health Programs.
Less burnout seen among US physicians, Stanford researcher says
The epidemic levels of physicians reporting burnout dropped modestly in 2017, according to a study by researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine, the Mayo Clinic and the American Medical Association.
Payments to physicians may increase opioid prescribing
US doctors who receive direct payments from opioid manufacturers tend to prescribe more opioids than doctors who receive no such payments, according to new research published by Addiction.
Is marketing of opioids to physicians associated with overdose deaths?
This study examined the association between pharmaceutical company marketing of opioids to physicians and subsequent death from prescription opioid overdoses across US counties.
Nearly half of resident physicians report burnout
Resident physician burnout in the US is widespread, with the highest rates concentrated in certain specialties, according to research from Mayo Clinic, OHSU and collaborators.
Burnout and scope of practice in new family physicians
Among physicians, family physicians report some of the highest levels of burnout.
Majority of US physicians say they're burned out or depressed
This release concerns the first-ever Medscape National Report on Physician Burnout and Depression.
More than five percent of family physicians did not attempt recertification
More than five percent of family physicians did not attempt recertification.
More Physicians News and Physicians Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Listen Again: Meditations on Loneliness
Original broadcast date: April 24, 2020. We're a social species now living in isolation. But loneliness was a problem well before this era of social distancing. This hour, TED speakers explore how we can live and make peace with loneliness. Guests on the show include author and illustrator Jonny Sun, psychologist Susan Pinker, architect Grace Kim, and writer Suleika Jaouad.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#565 The Great Wide Indoors
We're all spending a bit more time indoors this summer than we probably figured. But did you ever stop to think about why the places we live and work as designed the way they are? And how they could be designed better? We're talking with Emily Anthes about her new book "The Great Indoors: The Surprising Science of how Buildings Shape our Behavior, Health and Happiness".
Now Playing: Radiolab

The Third. A TED Talk.
Jad gives a TED talk about his life as a journalist and how Radiolab has evolved over the years. Here's how TED described it:How do you end a story? Host of Radiolab Jad Abumrad tells how his search for an answer led him home to the mountains of Tennessee, where he met an unexpected teacher: Dolly Parton.Jad Nicholas Abumrad is a Lebanese-American radio host, composer and producer. He is the founder of the syndicated public radio program Radiolab, which is broadcast on over 600 radio stations nationwide and is downloaded more than 120 million times a year as a podcast. He also created More Perfect, a podcast that tells the stories behind the Supreme Court's most famous decisions. And most recently, Dolly Parton's America, a nine-episode podcast exploring the life and times of the iconic country music star. Abumrad has received three Peabody Awards and was named a MacArthur Fellow in 2011.