April 07, 2016
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Burnout common among early-career pediatricians

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Recent survey results in Pediatrics showed that professional burnout and struggles with work-life balance were prevalent among early-career pediatricians, despite career and life satisfaction being reported by the majority of respondents.

“We observed that a majority of participants reported career and life satisfaction,” Amy J. Starmer, MD, MPH, of the division of general pediatrics at Boston Children’s Hospital, and colleagues wrote. “However, burnout and struggles with work-life balance were common, and dissatisfaction with life and career was a concern for some.”

Amy Starmer

Amy J. Starmer

The researchers received survey responses from 840 early-career pediatricians who completed their residencies between 2002 and 2004. Pediatricians were asked about their balance between personal and work life; their feelings of burnout; their career satisfaction and their life satisfaction. Participants rated their agreement with statements like: “I am currently experiencing burnout in my work,” using a 5-point Likert scale, ranging from strongly agree to strongly disagree. The researchers used statistical analysis to determine how certain work and life characteristics related to each component of the survey.

Study results showed that 83% of participants reported career satisfaction, and 71% reported life satisfaction. Yet, the researchers wrote, only 43% reported that their work-life balance was appropriate, and 30% reported experiencing work burnout.

Using multivariate analysis, the researchers found that characteristics like very good health were associated with an increased likelihood for work-life balance and satisfaction, as well as a decreased likelihood for burnout. Women pediatricians reported a lower likelihood of work-life balance and career satisfaction, but no association was observed with burnout or life satisfaction. The researchers also wrote that race, clinical specialty and having children were not associated with any of the survey components.

“With an increased awareness and recognition of the factors associated with physician well-being, next steps include a need to examine in more detail the ability of targeted interventions that aim to modify factors, such as physician health, peer support networks, and increased availability of clinical resources, that might be able to result in increased satisfaction and decreased burnout,” Starmer and colleagues wrote. “Although burnout and dissatisfaction with life and career are prevalent, focused attention on programs that increase physician health, ensure availability of personal support from physician colleagues, and maximize available resources for patient care may have the potential to ameliorate these effects.” – by David Costill

Disclosure: The researchers report no relevant financial disclosures.