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Persistence of burnout among physicians ‘alarming,’ survey finds

Photo: magann/iStockphoto

Watertown, MA — More than two-thirds of U.S. physicians have experienced burnout, including nearly 4 out of 5 in primary care practices, results of a recent survey show.

Using 612 U.S.-based primary care physicians’ and specialists’ responses to a survey conducted June 6-7 by market research company InCrowd, researchers found that 68% of the participants reported experiencing some level of burnout. Broken down, that percentage was 79 among primary care physicians and 57 among specialists.

A higher percentage of younger physicians experienced burnout than older colleagues. Respondents in their 30s (70%) and 40s (74%) more frequently reported symptoms of burnout, which decreased as age increased.

Only 25% of the respondents said their health care facilities were effectively addressing burnout. Among physicians in private practices, 27% said their facilities effectively addressed burnout, while only 20% of hospital-based physicians reported the same.

The top recommendations for health care facilities to alleviate burnout among physicians, according to the respondents, are to increase support staffing (66%), provide mandatory vacation days or half days (57%), and reduce patient volume (56%). Other suggestions focused on easing administrative burden: offer 40 minutes a day and a half day per week for administrative time, use scribes to assist with electronic medical records, and increase training for nonclinical staff to do work that is falling on physicians.


“The alarming persistence of physician burnout unfortunately demonstrates that we have not yet turned the tide on this problematic issue,” InCrowd co-founder and President Diane Hayes said in an Aug. 6 press release. “The health care industry would benefit from refining and expanding current initiatives to assure adequate staffing levels needed to deliver the quality care patients deserve.”

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