In the United States, 42% of physicians report burnout and many also report depression, according to Medscape’s 2018 National Physician Burnout and Depression Report.
Medscape conducted an online survey to determine the prevalence and effect of burnout and depression among physicians in the United States. A total of 15,543 practicing physicians across 29 specialties completed the survey.
Data from the survey revealed that 42% of physicians experienced burnout, 15% experienced depression —colloquially (12%) or clinically (3%) — and 14% experienced both burnout and depression. Critical care physicians, neurologists, family physicians, internists and OBGYNs reported the highest rates of burnout, ranging from 46% to 48%, while plastic surgeons, dermatologists, pathologists and ophthalmologists reported the lowest rates, ranging from 23% to 33%.
Female physicians were more likely than male physicians to experience burnout (48% vs. 38%). In addition, physicians aged 45 to 54 years had higher rates of burnout (50%) than younger physicians (35%) and those aged between 55 and 69 years (41%).
Forty percent of physicians who reported depression believed that their depression does not affect patient care; however, 33% reported feeling easily exasperated by patients, 32% reported being less engaged with their patients and 29% reported being less friendly with patients because of their depression. Furthermore, 14% of these physicians reported that they make errors that they would not normally make as a result of their depression, with 5% reporting that these errors could harm patients.
Many physicians reported that depression adversely affects their relationships with colleagues, with 42% reporting being easily exasperated and less engaged with them and 37% reporting expressing frustration in front of them.
Physicians reported excess bureaucratic tasks (56%), such as charting and paperwork, and spending too many hours at work (39%) as the primary contributing factors to burnout. Thirty-five percent of physicians believe increased compensation (35%) and a more manageable work schedule (31%) would relieve burnout. Only 40% of physicians sought or planned to seek professional help for burnout, depression or both.
Due to concerns about physician health, the ACP recently launched an initiative to cultivate a culture of wellness, enhance practice efficiency, reduce administrative burdens and improve physician well-being and professional satisfaction. – by Alaina Tedesco