Pain physicians in need of burnout interventions

As if professional burnout weren't a severe enough problem among the general physician population, new research presented at the annual scientific meeting of the American Pain Society (APS) suggests it's hitting even harder among doctors who treat pain.

Out of 230 surveyed members of the American Society of Interventional Pain Physicians, 61 percent rated their emotional exhaustion level as high; 20 percent reported high depersonalization levels and 43 percent rated their level of personal accomplishment as low, MedPage Today reported.

"We don't often have dramatic effects on chronic pain," Roger Fillingim, Ph.D., APS president and director of the University of Florida Pain Research and Intervention Center of Excellence in Gainesville, told MedPage. "We have a patient population that is suffering greatly. We don't have ready-made interventions that reduce that suffering dramatically and quickly. That is frustrating."

The survey was conducted just before the rollout of the Affordable Care Act, which may have elevated the physicians' stress levels noted Harry Kroll, M.D., from Wayne State University School of Medicine in Detroit, who led the research. Another prominent challenge for pain doctors is battling the epidemic of prescription painkiller abuse.

"Research into interventions that mitigate these stressors needs to be developed," Kroll's team wrote.

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