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Many U.S. Doctors Have Symptoms of Burnout: Survey
Date:8/20/2012

By Alan Mozes
HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, Aug. 20 (HealthDay News) -- Nearly half of American physicians say they've experienced at least one of the key telltale signs of professional burnout, a new national survey says.

The observation, which the survey investigating team called "alarming," stems from responses provided by nearly 7,300 doctors, including those on the front lines of emergency care, internists, neurologists, family physicians, dermatologists, pediatricians and preventive medicine specialists.

And the revelation raises concerns about the negative impact physician distress might have on quality of care.

"Does it surprise me that a good proportion of physicians experience some form of elevated stress?" said Terrance Bedient, vice president of the Medical Society of the State of New York, in Albany. "No, it does not. Everyone is subject to the stresses of personal issues and social concerns related to the family. But physicians also labor under particularly high expectations and demands, increasingly limited independence, and a dropping rate of compensation, historically speaking, for their work."

Bedient, also director of the medical society's committee for physician health, was not a part of the survey team.

The study authors, led by Dr. Tait Shanafelt from the department of internal medicine at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., report their findings online in the Aug. 20 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine.

Shanafelt's team administered the survey in 2010 to a sampling from an American Medical Association database to assess the prevalence of emotional exhaustion, enthusiasm dissipation, cynicism, depression, suicidal tendencies, negative views on work-life balance and low professional esteem among the nation's doctors.

The authors found that just shy of 46 percent of participants, overall, said they had experienced at least one symptom of burnout.

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