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New survey shows decline in physician burnout

Written on Feb 26, 2019

For the first time since 2011, the physician burnout rate has dropped below 50% among doctors in the U.S., according to a new triennial study. However, while the decrease in the physician burnout rate might suggest that health systems are on the right track, more work still needs to be done.

More than 5,000 physicians responded to a survey conducted by researchers from the American Medical Association (AMA), the Mayo Clinic and Stanford University School of Medicine. The study found that 43.9% of U.S. physicians exhibited at least one symptom of burnout in 2017, compared with 54.4% in 2014 and 45.5% in 2011.

Published in Mayo Clinical Proceedings, the study, Changes in Burnout and Satisfaction with Work-Life Integration in Physicians and the General US Working Population between 2011-2017, also found that the overall prevalence of burnout among U.S. workers was 28.1% in 2017. This is similar to levels found in 2014 (28.4%) and 2011 (28.6%).

Doctors also experienced an improvement in satisfaction with work-life integration in 2017. When asked if their work schedule leaves them with enough time for their personal and family life, 42.7% of physicians said they were satisfied with their work-life integration.

While physicians are more satisfied than they were in 2014 (40.9%), it remained less favorable than in 2011 when 48.7% of doctors stated they had enough time for their personal and family life.

However, after adjusting for age, gender, relationship status and hours worked in a week, physicians remained at an increased risk for burnout and were less likely to be satisfied with work-life integration than other working adults. The proportion of physicians screening positive for depression also saw a modest, but steady increase with 41.7% in 2017 and 39.8% in 2014.