Burnout hurts physicians' practices — 5 highlights

Rochester, Minn.-based Mayo Clinic researchers studied the connection between physician burnout and decreasing professional satisfaction.

The researchers analyzed seven years of independent payroll records as well as surveys assessing work satisfaction. The study rated emotional exhaustion on a seven-point scale and professional satisfaction on a five-point scale. Mayo Clinic Proceedings published the study.

Here are five highlights:

1. The researchers found the burnout level foreshadows whether physicians will decrease their hours over the next two years.

2. For every point increase on the emotional exhaustion scale, physicians had a 40 percent greater likelihood of decreasing their work hours over the next two years.

3. Researchers found a similar outcome for every one point decrease on the professional satisfaction scale.

4. Researchers concluded their findings are critical for primary care physicians, as there is already a physician shortage. They suggest additional studies to see if the burnout is reversible by practice environment changes.

"There is a societal imperative to provide physicians a better option than choosing between reducing clinical work or burning out," said Tait Shanafelt, MD, Mayo Clinic physician and leader study author.

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