Doctors Experiencing ‘Burnout’ At Alarming Levels, Survey Finds
“Burnout” is not a term you may be comfortable hearing when it comes to your doctor or the care you may be receiving, but a new survey reveals that the problem of overwhelmed physicians is on the rise in a way experts find to be alarming as an increasing number of physicians report symptoms of being weighted-down professionally.
Going into the research, it was expected that a high number of doctors would be at risk for burnout or exhibiting symptoms, but the results were even worse than estimated. While it was believed as many as one in three doctors may be suffering from increased patient load, decreased resources, and the resultant physical and psychological stress, the findings indicated many more health care providers than initially thought were at risk for burnout.
Per the study examining doctors and burnout, certain specialties were more likely to report the symptoms than others – general internal medicine, neurology, emergency medicine, and family medicine tended to have more physicians at risk for burning out than others.
In addition to personal problems precipitated by the symptoms of burnout, decreased quality of care, higher propensity for errors, and premature retirement may result.
The study’s lead author Tait Shanafelt explains that it was expected surgeons would be at higher risk, and the findings regarding front-line physicians surprised researchers:
“There have been other studies done on doctor burnout, but we assumed it was the surgical specialties who would be at primary risk,” says Shanafelt. “Instead we found out it’s the physicians on the front line of care who are at the greatest risk.”