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Nearly Half of U.S. Physicians Have Symptoms of Burnout

Last Updated: August 23, 2012.

Nearly half of all U.S. physicians report at least one symptom of burnout, with family, internal, and emergency medicine specialists reporting the highest rates of burnout, according to research published online Aug. 20 in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

THURSDAY, Aug. 23 (HealthDay News) -- Nearly half of all U.S. physicians report at least one symptom of burnout, with family, internal, and emergency medicine specialists reporting the highest rates of burnout, according to research published online Aug. 20 in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

Tait D. Shanafelt, M.D., of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., and colleagues conducted a nationwide study involving 27,276 physicians to evaluate the rate of burnout among U.S. doctors. A total of 7,288 physicians (26.7 percent) completed the survey, and the results were compared with those of 3,442 working U.S. adults.

The researchers found that, overall, 45.8 percent reported at least one symptom of burnout. However, burnout differed substantially by specialty, with those in family medicine, internal medicine, and emergency medicine reporting the highest rates of burnout. Compared with the general population, U.S. physicians were significantly more likely to have symptoms of burnout (37.9 versus 27.8 percent) and be dissatisfied with their work-life balance (40.2 versus 23.2 percent).

"In conclusion, burnout is highly prevalent among U.S. physicians, more so than among other U.S. workers. Physicians in specialties at the front line of care access seem to be at greatest risk," the authors write. "Given the evidence that burnout may adversely affect quality of care and negatively affect physician health, additional research is needed to identify personal, organizational, and societal interventions to address this problem."

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