In 2018, 78% of physicians in the United States reported one or more symptoms of burnout,15 an increase of 4% compared to 2016, and more than 33% consider themselves fully burned out.3 Physician burnout may be under-reported, since one coping strategy is withdrawal from practice by reducing days worked or leaving clinical practice in favor of non-clinical employment. Underreporting may also be reinforced by cultural mores that deem burnout shameful.16
Physician burnout is not unique to the United States. It has been reported in multiple countries. A 2019 review and meta-analysis of 37 studies involving 15,183 French physicians found 49% had burnout, and 5% had severe burnout.17
The annual organizational costs of physician burnout attributable to turnover and reduced clinical hours is approximately $7,600 per employed physician per year.1 As an example, a health care organization with 100 employed physicians has burnout attributable cost due to turnover and reduced clinical hours of $760,000 per year. There are additional costs associated with medical errors, malpractice lawsuits, lower interpersonal teamwork, reduction in professional effort, and staff turnover. The increasing incidence of physician burnout and its negative impacts on all aspects of health care is an increasing concern for health systems due to decreased patient access, increased physician errors and both direct and indirect costs14.
1. Han S, Shanafelt TD, Sinsky CA, et al. Estimating the Attributable Cost of Physician Burnout in the United States. Ann Intern Med. 2019. doi:10.7326/m18-1422
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4. Physician Burnout The Root of the Problem and the Path to Solutions.pdf. 2017.
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11. Anderson P. Doctors’ Suicide Rate Highest of Any Profession. 2018.
12. Chou S. Do No Harm: The Story of the Epidemic of Physician and Trainee Suicides. Am J Psychiatry Resid J. 2017;12(4):10-10. doi:10.1176/appi.ajp-rj.2017.120406
13. West C, Dyrbye L, Shanafelt T. Physician burnout: contributors, consequences and solutions. J Intern Med. 2018;283(6):516-529. doi:10.1111/joim.12752
14. Berg S. How much physician burnout is costing your organization. 2018. https://www.ama-assn.org/practice-management/economics/how-much-physician-burnout-costing-your-organization
15. Hawkins M. 2018 Survey of America’s Physicians: Practice Patterns and Perspectives. 2018.
16. Hill AB. Breaking the Stigma — A Physician’s Perspective on Self-Care and Recovery. New Engl J Medicine. 2017;376(12):1103-1105. doi:10.1056/nejmp1615974
17. Ziad K, Laurent B, Marianne H, Villes V, Christophe L, Guillaume F. Burnout in French physicians: a systematic review and Meta-analysis. J Affect Disorders. 2018;246(International Journal of Nursing Studies 52 2015):132-147. doi:10.1016/j.jad.2018.12.056