Contrary to popular belief, physicians who work in outpatient settings are at just as much risk for burnout as their inpatient counterparts, according to a new study published in the Journal of Hospital Medicine.
To investigate the myth that hospital-based doctors suffer higher rates of burnout, researchers at the Minnesota-based Mayo Clinic reviewed 54 burnout studies from around the world, which included data from more than 5,000 outpatient physicians and more than 1,300 inpatient physicians.
Burnout occurred equally in both settings, according to the study, although there were slight differences in the way physicians were affected. In particular, outpatient physicians reported more emotional exhaustion than inpatient physicians.
"Burnout is everywhere and if you look for it you'll find it," Daniel Roberts, M.D., an internal medicine physician at Mayo Clinic Hospital in Arizona and lead author of the study, told NewsMedical. "What this study tells us is that it is as much a problem for clinic-based doctors as it is for hospitalists and others who work in shifts. It's a little reassuring to find that hospitalists aren't particularly prone, but it's more concerning how burnout spans different specialties and practice locations."
According to NewsMedical, risk factors for burnout include high patient volume, lack of a supportive medical community and high administrative burdens. Fortunately, there are steps physician leaders can take to help reduce these risks for their physicians and staff, such as fine-tuning patient flow and encouraging dialogue about problems.