ORLANDO– Nearly half of U.S. gastroenterologists who responded to a recent survey had symptoms of burnout that seemed largely driven by work-life balance issues.
Burnout appeared to disproportionately affect younger gastroenterologists, those who spend more time on chores at home including caring for young children, physicians who were neutral toward or dissatisfied with a spouse or partner, and clinicians planning to soon leave their practice, Carol A. Burke, MD, said at the World Congress of Gastroenterology at ACG 2017.
Factors not linked with burnout included their type of practice, whether the gastroenterologists worked full or part time, their location, and their compensation, said Dr. Burke, director of the Center for Colon Polyp and Cancer Prevention at the Cleveland Clinic.
The life issues that appeared most strongly linked to burnout “speak to a problem for physicians to balance” their professional and personal lives, Dr. Burke said in a video interview. Several interventions exist that can potentially mitigate burnout, and the American College of Gastroenterology, which ran the survey, is taking steps to make information on these interventions available to members, noted Dr. Burke, the organization’s president.
Dr. Burke and her associates sent a 60-item survey to all 11,080 College members during 2014 and 2015 and received 1,021 replies including 754 fully completed responses. Their prespecified definition of burnout was a high score for emotional exhaustion or for depersonalization, or both, on the Maslach Burnout Inventory. The results showed that 45% of respondents had a high score for emotional exhaustion, 21% scored high on depersonalization, and overall 49% met the burnout criteria set by the investigators. The Inventory answers also showed that 18% had a low sense of personal accomplishment.
A multivariate analysis showed that significant links with burnout were younger age, more time spent on domestic chores, having a neutral or dissatisfying relationship with a spouse or partner, and plans for imminent retirement from gastroenterology practice, Dr. Burke reported.
The main reasons for planning imminent retirement were reimbursement, cited by 32% of this subgroup, regulations, cited by 21%, recertification, cited by 16%, and electronic medical records, cited by 10% as the main reason for leaving practice.
Strategies and resources aimed at better dealing with burnout were requested by 60% of all survey respondents, and the College is in the process of making these tools available, Dr. Burke said.
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