40% of U.S. urologists report burnout

August 29, 2012

About 40% of urologists report symptoms of burnout, a recent national survey of more than 7,000 physicians finds.

About 40% of urologists report symptoms of burnout, a recent national survey of more than 7,000 physicians finds.

First author Tait D. Shanafelt, MD, of Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN, and colleagues conducted a national study of burnout in physicians from all specialty disciplines using the American Medical Association Physician Masterfile and a sample of working U.S. adults from the general population for comparison.

In all, 45.8% of physicians reported at least one symptom of burnout. In addition, 37.9% of U.S. physicians had high emotional exhaustion, 29.4% had high depersonalization, and 12.4% had a low sense of personal accomplishment. Compared with 3,442 working U.S. adults, physicians were more likely to have symptoms of burnout (37.9% vs. 27.8%) and to be dissatisfied with their work-life balance (40.2% vs. 23.2%).

Differences in burnout also varied by specialty. Approximately 40% of urologists reported burnout while nearly 50% reported they were satisfied with their work-life balance. Emergency medicine, general internal medicine, neurology, and family medicine reported the highest rates of burnout.

The survey had a 26.7% participation rate.

"Collectively, the findings of this national study indicate that the prevalence of burnout among U.S. physicians is at an alarming level, physicians in specialties at the front line of care access are at greatest risk, physicians work longer hours and have greater struggles with work-life integration than other U.S. workers, and after adjusting for hours worked per week, higher levels of education and professional degrees seem to reduce the risk for burnout in fields outside of medicine, whereas a degree in medicine increases the risk," concluded the authors, who published their findings online in Archives of Internal Medicine (Aug. 20, 2012).

The American Medical Association and the Mayo Clinic Department of Medicine Program on Physician Well-Being provided funding for the study.

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