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Burnout Experienced by More Than Two-Thirds of US Physicians

A new report released by InCrowd, a health care market research insights company, showed that not only do 68% of US physicians surveyed experience some level of burnout, but only 25% believe their facilities adequately address the problem.

The June 2019 survey comprised of 612 US-based primary care physicians and specialists with an average age of 43 years and an average 12 years in practice. According to the report, “primary care providers [PCPs] report higher burnout rates than specialists, with 79% of PCPs personally experiencing burnout compared with 57% of specialists.”

“The alarming persistence of physician burnout over the years and across multiple studies unfortunately demonstrates that we have not yet turned the tide on this problematic issue,” said Diane Hayes, PhD, cofounder and president of InCrowd, in a statement. “Since we last looked at this in 2016, there really haven’t been any notable improvements. 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.”

To address the issue of physician burnout, two-thirds of survey responders suggest that increasing staffing would alleviate some of the burden, 57% believe mandatory vacation periods or fewer hours would help, and 56% answered that reduced patient volume could address the issue.

Improving workflow, providing flexible schedules, and supporting wellness are among the top methods reported by the 25% of respondents who answered that their facilities are effectively addressing burnout.

A PCP from a practice with six or more physicians gave the following feedback: “The amount of work required of physicians keeps increasing. We deal with long hours, lack of recognition for hard work, no compensation for phone calls or time spent filling out tedious paperwork, decreasing compensation, increasing regulations, patients getting more demanding, jobs being taken by mid-level providers to save money...just to name a few.”

While it is consistently reported that physician burnout is a common problem, metrics vary from different sources that are conducted on the same subject. A report released by Medscape earlier in 2019 found 43% to 54% of specialty physicians reported experiencing burnout and a significant 80% from The Physicians Foundation/Merrit Hawkins biennial survey in 2018. In comparison, InCrowd’s survey found that nearly 80% of PCPs report burnout vs 43.9% in a March 2019 American Academy of Family Physicians study. —Edan Stanley

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