Burnout Gets Personal for 68% of Physicians

More than two-thirds of physicians have personally experienced some level of burnout, according to a new survey by real-time market insights technology firm InCrowd.

The overall prevalence of personal burnout experience was 68% among respondents, and another 28% said that they had not felt burned out but knew other physicians who had, InCrowd reported Aug. 6.

Specialty appeared to play a part given that 79% of primary care physicians reported experiencing burnout versus 57% of specialists. In response to an open-ended question about ability to manage burnout, the most common answer (23%) was that specialty played a large role, with “no role/all specialties affected equally” next at 13%. Equal proportions of respondents, however, said that specialists (24%) and primary care physicians (24%) were the group most affected, InCrowd said.

There was also a disconnect regarding age. When answering another open-ended question about the effects of age, 23% of those surveyed said that older physicians are more affected, compared with 9% who put the greater burden on younger physicians. The self-reporting of burnout, however, showed that younger physicians were much more likely to experience its effects than their older counterparts: 70% of those aged 30-39 years and 74% of those 40-49 versus 22% of those aged 70-80, InCrowd reported.

InCrowd noted that its results fall within the range of other recent surveys involving burnout in physicians that have shown levels that were lower, at 44% (MedScape, 2019) or 43.9% (American Academy of Family Physicians, 2019), and those that were higher, at 77.8% (The Physicians Foundation/Merritt Hawkins, 2018).

“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,” Diane Hayes, PhD, president of InCrowd, said in a statement accompanying the survey results. “Since we last looked at this in 2016, there really haven’t been any notable improvements. The healthcare industry would benefit from refining and expanding current initiatives to assure adequate staffing levels needed to deliver the quality care patients deserve.”

The survey was conducted June 6-7, 2019, and involved responses from 612 physicians (51% primary care providers, 49% specialists).