Focus On: Physician Burnout
Focus On: Physician Burnout
Perspective from Neda Gould, PhD
Perspective from Srijan Sen, MD, PhD
May 28, 2019
1 min read

WHO adds burnout to ICD-11

Perspective from Neda Gould, PhD
Perspective from Srijan Sen, MD, PhD
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Burnout has been added to the 11th revision of the International Classification of Diseases, according to a news release.

According to WHO, burnout results from chronic workplace stress that has not been managed successfully. In the ICD-11 entry, burnout was filed under problems tied to employment or unemployment.

Burnout is characterized by three dimensions:

  • feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion;
  • increased mental distance from one’s job, or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one's job; and
  • reduced professional efficacy.

However, the diagnosis should exclude adjustment disorder, disorders specifically linked to stress and anxiety- or fear-related disorder.

Healio Psychiatry previously reported on a paper in which experts from leading U.S. health organizations deemed physician burnout “a public health crisis.”

Image of burnout 
Source: Adobe Stock

“Physician burnout has received some attention in recent years, but not enough. As a result, it is both poorly understood and getting worse,” Andrew R. Iliff, MA, JD, lead writer and program manager at Harvard Global Health Institute, told Healio Psychiatry.

In their paper, experts from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, the Harvard Global Health Institute, the Massachusetts Medical Society and the Massachusetts Health and Hospital Association recommended ways to address the prevalence of burnout among physicians and other health care providers. Recommendations included:

  • appointing an executive-level chief wellness officer (CWO) at every major health care organization;
  • providing support for those experiencing burnout; and
  • improving the efficiency of electronic health records.

“Our ongoing failure to address increasing physician burnout threatens to undermine the provision of care,” Iliff said. “But we have a pretty good idea how to fix it — starting with making physician wellness a top priority at health care organizations and streamlining electronic health records to allow physicians to focus on patient care.” – by Savannah Demko


Jha AK, et al. A crisis in health care: A call to action on physician burnout. Accessed on May 28, 2019.

WHO. ICD-11 for mortality and morbidity statistics. QD85 burn-out. Accessed on May 28, 2019.

Disclosure: Healio Psychiatry was unable to confirm relevant financial disclosures at the time of publication.