Doctors are facing increasing rates of “burnout,” according to a new study in the Archives of Internal Medicine.
Authors of the report surveyed 7,288 doctors and found nearly half of them had higher rates of depression and lower rates of job satisfaction than other American workers.
Using a test called the Maslach Burnout Inventory, the new report found especially high rates of burnout among doctors on the front lines of medical care – those in emergency, family and internal medicine.
The findings don’t came as a surprise to many area doctors.
There are many factors at work for the study’s findings, but Dr. Laurie Glimcher thinks one of them is declining payments to hospitals from the federal government for research and patient care.
“There’s more pressure on physicians to see more patients and to bring in more clinical revenue to support the institution and to support their own salaries,” said Glimcher, Dean of Weill Cornell Medical College.
She said hospitals are doing better than they used to at reducing the stress on physicians by limiting work hours, among other things, but the external pressures continue to grow.
“There are many more safeguards than there used to be, including hour restrictions and constant surveillance of patient and physician satisfaction,” she explained. “But with an aging population and several million new people going to be insured under the Affordable Care Act, there’s going to be a physician shortage.”
Glimcher, like others in the physician community, has called for other measure to help ease the stress in the profession, including increasing the number of medical residency slots, which have been limited since 1997.