‘Unexpected’: Physician burnout rate lower in rural areas
Family medicine doctors who practiced in rural areas were less likely to experience burnout than those who practiced in medium-sized and metropolitan areas, according to survey results.
“We hypothesized that family physicians working in rural areas have increased burnout rates due to significant practice demands and potentially increased work hours, lack of resources, lack of ready access to specialty consultation, lack of privacy from patients and increased isolation,” Amy Hogue, MD, FAAFP, and Mark K. Huntington, MD, PhD, FAAFP, physicians with the Center for Family Medicine in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, wrote in the South Dakota Journal of Medicine.
Physician burnout in rural locations is especially concerning “given the shortage of practicing physicians in these areas,” they added.
Using an assessment tool that had been validated with the Maslach Burnout Inventory Emotional Exhaustion Index, Hogue and Huntingdon analyzed 99 online surveys that family medicine doctors had completed. Forty of the surveys were completed by family medicine doctors practicing in rural areas.
They found that 25% of respondents practicing in rural areas reported burnout, compared with 37.5% of respondents in medium-sized towns and 51.4% of respondents practicing in metropolitan areas (P = .0183).
Hogue and Huntington said the findings were “unexpected” and could serve as a recruitment tool.
“Resident physicians who are considering rural practice — but are worried about burnout — can be assured that rural practice may in fact be protective against burnout,” they added. – by Janel Miller
Disclosures: Healio Primary Care was unable to confirm Hogue and Huntington’s relevant financial disclosures at the time of publication.