One Cause of Increasing Burnout of Physicians Is “the Politicization of Science”

(p. A25) Ten years of data from a nationwide survey of physicians confirm another trend that’s worsened through the pandemic: Burnout rates among doctors in the United States, which were already high a decade ago, have risen to alarming levels.

Results released this month and published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings, a peer-reviewed journal, show that 63 percent of physicians surveyed reported at least one symptom of burnout at the end of 2021 and the beginning of 2022, an increase from 44 percent in 2017 and 46 percent in 2011. Only 30 percent felt satisfied with their work-life balance, compared with 43 percent five years earlier.

“This is the biggest increase of emotional exhaustion that I’ve ever seen, anywhere in the literature,” said Bryan Sexton, the director of Duke University’s Center for Healthcare Safety and Quality, who was not involved in the survey efforts.

. . .

The increase in burnout is most likely a mix of new problems and exacerbated old ones, Dr. Shanafelt said. For instance, the high number of messages doctors received about patients’ electronic health records was closely linked to increased burnout before the pandemic. After the pandemic, the number of messages from patients coming into physicians’ In Baskets, a health care closed messaging system, increased by 157 percent.

And physicians pointed to the politicization of science, labor shortages and the vilification of health care workers as significant issues.

For the full story, see:

Oliver Whang. “New Survey Suggests An Alarming Increase In Physician Burnout.” The New York Times (Friday, September 30, 2022): A25.

(Note: ellipsis added.]

(Note: the online version of the story has the date Sept. 29, 2022, and has the title “Physician Burnout Has Reached Distressing Levels, New Research Finds.”)

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