Survey spotlights physician burnout during the COVID-19 pandemic
A new study found the rates of frontline physician burnout increased through the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic, raising concerns about the well-being of physicians and impacts of physician burnout on the healthcare system. The study surveyed a national sample of five types of U.S. physicians, (emergency medicine, critical care, primary care, hospitalist and infectious disease physicians), during May–June 2020 and again during December 2020–January 2021. Emergency medicine and critical care physicians had the highest rates of burnout early in the pandemic, but hospitalist and primary care physician respondents showed the most substantial increases in burnout rates over time. CHPR faculty member Joy Melnikow, emeritus professor in UC Davis Health's Department of Family and Community Medicine, and statistician Andrew Padovani and health policy analyst Marykate Miller co-authored the study in BMC Health Services Research.
“Physicians experiencing burnout have decreased well-being from stress and exhaustion, which can have adverse effects on quality of care,” said Melnikow. “Physician burnout was an ongoing concern before COVID-19 but the pandemic appears to have further accelerated burnout rates. Healthcare organizations can attenuate the effects of burnout by investing resources and improving physician support.”