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The Prevalence of Burnout in Healthcare

The 2019 Medscape National Burnout, Depression and Suicide Report, (which included 15,000 US MD respondents across 29 specialties) found that 44% of physicians report being burned out.

A 2019 paper (JAMA Network Open-Health Policy) on physician burnout in the MGPO (Massachusetts General Physicians Organization) found that overall, burnout increased from 40.6% to 45.6% from 2014 to 2017 survey points. The increased rate was associated with exhaustion and cynicism. Physicians in earlier career stages were found to be the most vulnerable to burnout.

Other studies show that 25-33% of critical care nurses manifest symptoms of severe burnout.

Many believe that burnout is simply something which we must accept, with no real options for prevention or relief. However, burnout is extremely harmful to individuals who experience it, and it threatens to negatively impact anyone who works in or interfaces with the healthcare system. There are consequences to well-being, job satisfaction, retention of the work force, patient experience and other system costs. Moreover, research indicates that those in healthcare are impacted by burnout more than those who work in other industries. There is risk across all medical disciplines and professional training levels.

On a positive note, one recent study (in press) in Mayo Clinic Proceedings (2019) found that burnout levels in physicians have started to trend downward for the first time since 2011.  This may be in part because those in a position to study burnout and adopt measures to prevent/counteract burnout have been taking notice and allocating resources to improvement efforts. No longer is the focus just on those who are affected by burnout but also on important system changes. Research on burnout involving nurses and physicians has increased significantly. Those who are engaged include but are not limited to The National Academy of Medicine, the American Medical Association, the Massachusetts Medical Society, the Massachusetts Health and Hospital Association, and well-respected care delivery systems, including Partners and its hospitals. Partners signed onto the National Academy of Medicine’s Request for Commitment to its Action Collaborative on addressing burnout.

The EAP continues to serve as a confidential, expert resource for physicians, nurses and other employees struggling with burnout. 



For more information or to discuss stress and resilience concerns please contact Partners Employee Assistance Program at 1-866-724-4EAP.

In case of emergency, please call 911 or your local hospital emergency service. 

This content was last modified on: 05/15/2019

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