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May 11, 2018

Why 83% of health care workers say burnout is a problem—and what you can do about it

Daily Briefing

    More than 80% of clinicians, clinical leaders, and health care executives said clinician burnout is a problem at their organizations, according to a report published last month in NEJM Catalyst.   

    May 17 webconference: How to combat clinician burnout at your organization

    The report is based on survey of NEJM Catalyst Insights Council members, who include clinical leaders, clinicians, and health care executives. A total of 703 respondents completed the survey, which included several questions concerning physician burnout, such as what tools can be used to reduce physician burnout.


    Overall, 83% of respondents said physician burnout is a "serious" or "moderate" problem at their organizations. That's down from a 2016 NEJM Catalyst survey in which 96% of respondents said physician burnout was a "serious" or "moderate" problem at their organizations.

    According to the latest report, respondents said burnout also was a problem among various types of health care professionals. Specifically, the report noted that:

    • 78% of respondents said burnout is a "serious" or "moderate" problem among registered nurses;
    • 64% said burnout is a "serious" or "moderate" problem among advanced practice nurses;
    • 56% said burnout is a "serious" or "moderate" problem among clinical leaders; and
    • 42% said burnout is a "serious" or "moderate" problem among health care executives.

    According to the report, more than two-thirds of respondents said clinician burnout has worsened over the past two to three years at their organizations, while 5% of respondents said the problem has improved. Over the next two to three years, 15% of respondents said they expect to see improvements, compared with 60% of respondents who said they expect to see the problem worsen.

    Ways to address clinician burnout

    To address clinician burnout, a majority of respondents said executives should focus on interventions at the organizational level, while fewer than 50% of respondents said interventions should target the problem at the regulatory level or individual level.

    According to the report, 51% of respondents said practicing self-care is one of the tools a clinician can use to reduce or prevent burnout. However, 28% of respondents said individual responses are ineffective, because burnout is primarily a systemic issue.

    More than half of respondents said offloading clerical tasks—such as electronic health record (EHR) documenting responsibilities—is a top tool for organizations to address physician burnout, and 46% of respondents said improving EHRs and other IT systems can reduce burnout. According to the report, "Some organizations … shared … that they don't have the resources to invest in better systems, workflow, and people to alleviate burnout, so it has fallen on clinicians to be more resilient" (Monica, EHRIntelligence, 5/4).

    May 17 webconference: How to combat clinician burnout at your organization

    Anne Herleth, Consultant

    More than half of physicians and nurses feel “burned out” from today’s health care environment, which can increase clinician turnover and negatively impact patient experience and quality outcomes.

    Join this session to learn the main drivers of physician and nurse burnout, and how we can help your organization combat it.

    Register Now

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