Physicians are more likely to experience symptoms of "burnout" than individuals in other professions, according to a study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, Reuters reports (Joelving, Reuters, 8/21).
Mayo Clinic researchers surveyed 7,288 physicians for the study.
Participants completed a 22-item Maslach Burnout Inventory questionnaire to assess emotional exhaustion, depersonalization and a low sense of personal accomplishment.
The study found that 45.8% of physicians experience at least one of those symptoms.
It also found that physicians were more likely to experience symptoms of burnout than individuals in other professions. For example, 37.9% of physicians said they felt emotionally exhausted, compared with 27.8% of individuals in other professions.
According to the study, the highest burnout rates were associated with:
- Emergency medicine;
- Family medicine physicians;
- General internal medicine; and
- Neurology (Lloyd, USA Today, 8/20).
Dermatologists and preventive care specialists were less likely to experience burnout symptoms, the study found.
Tait Shanafelt, who led the study, said it is unclear why burnout affects so many physicians. In addition to workload, physicians also could be overwhelmed by paperwork, loss of professional autonomy and falling reimbursement rates, according to Reuters (Reuters, 8/21).
Shanafelt said, "Before health care reform takes hold, it's a concern that those docs are already operating at the margins" (USA Today, 8/20).