Report: Burnout is prevalent among U.S. physicians

2016 10 27 09 27 09 78 Doctors Sad Lean 400

A new report on burnout among physicians indicates that the condition is prevalent in the U.S., with more than 40% of doctors reporting feelings of burnout. Among medical specialties, radiologists reported burnout rates that were slightly higher than the average for all physicians.

In a survey of more than 15,000 physicians from 29 medical specialties, 42% reported burnout, according to the report from Medscape. What's more, 3% reported feelings of clinical depression, while another 12% reporting "feeling down."

Among the medical specialties, radiologists landed at the upper end in terms of the share of physicians reporting burnout, at 45%. Topping the list were critical care physicians and neurologists, each at 48%, followed by family medicine physicians at 47% and ob/gyn doctors at 46%.

Top 10 U.S. medical specialties reporting burnout
Medical specialty Percent reporting burnout
Critical care 48%
Neurology 48%
Family medicine 47%
Ob/gyn 46%
Internal medicine 46%
Emergency medicine 45%
Radiology 45%
Physical medicine and rehab 44%
Urology 44%
Allergy and immunology 44%

At the bottom of the scale were plastic surgeons at 23%, dermatologists and pathologists at 32%, and ophthalmologists at 33%. These types of physicians are less likely to work under emergent conditions, the report noted.

Further parsing the numbers, Medscape found that 48% of female physicians reported burnout, compared with 38% of male doctors. Burnout rates also change by age, with 35% of the youngest group reporting burnout, rising to 50% of doctors between the ages of 45 and 54. However, burnout rates then fell to 41% for those ages 55 to 69.

Among the physicians who reported being depressed, 40% said they didn't think it affected their care of patients. But 33% said they were easily exasperated by patients, and 32% said they engaged less with patients as a result of burnout. Some 14% said their depression caused them to make errors they didn't usually make, and 5% admitted that these errors could harm patients.

What was the biggest cause of physician burnout? A solid majority (56%) said too many bureaucratic tasks was the cause, while 39% reported spending too many hours at work. In addition, 26% said a lack of respect from colleagues and staff was a cause.

The report can be viewed by clicking here.

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