More than half of U.S. physicians say they experience burnout. To address the issue, Mayo Clinic and other leading medical centers have published a "Charter on Physician Well-Being" as an intended model for medical organizations to not only minimize and manage physician burnout, but also promote physician well-being.
The charter, which has been endorsed or supported by many major medical organizations including the American Medical Association and the American Association of Medical Colleges, was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, was compiled based on more than a decade of research on burnout conducted by Mayo researchers and collaborators.
Earlier this year, a Medscape National Report on Physician Burnout and Depression found that nearly two-thirds of U.S. physicians report feeling burned-out, depressed or both, with one in three admitting that their feelings of depression have an impact on how they relate to patients and colleagues.
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Physician burnout can hurt the bottom line. Research has shown, for instance, a consistent relationship between higher levels of physician burnout and lower levels of patient safety and quality of care.
The Medscape study found that the highest rates of burnout were among family physicians, intensivists, internists, neurologists and ob-gyns. The lowest rates were among plastic surgeons, dermatologists, pathologists and ophthalmologists. Burnout rates were higher among women -- 48 percent vs. 38 percent for men -- and physicians age 45-50 (50 percent vs. 35 percent for younger physicians and 41 percent for those aged 55-69.)
To that end, the charter recommends that healthcare organizations, medical leaders and policymakers develop institutional changes ranging from reengineering work schedules and personnel policies to providing wellness and counseling programs for physicians.