Epidemiological Research

Understanding the prevalence, causes, and consequences of physician burnout across the career span is vital to moving the field forward and informing thoughtful intervention strategies to be tested in rigorous trials. Although the group conducts research on medical students, residents, and medical providers across a variety of disciplines, its primary focus is on studying well-being among physicians.

Professional burnout is a syndrome of depersonalization, emotional exhaustion, and a diminished sense of personal accomplishment from work. It leads to decreased effectiveness at work, and is attributable to work-related stress.

Although matriculating medical students have better mental health than similarly aged peers who graduated from college but went on to pursue other careers, studies conducted by Mayo investigators have uncovered higher rates of burnout and depression among medical students and residents than similarly aged individuals in the U.S. population who pursue other careers.

Once in practice, physicians remain at a higher risk of burnout, even after controlling for work hours and a variety of other factors. Unfortunately, the prevalence of burnout appears to be increasing among physicians while remaining relatively stable in other U.S. workers.

Physicians who work more hours, are younger, are female, have young children, are in dual-career relationships, experience work-home conflicts and have their pay based entirely on billing are at a higher risk of burnout.

There are also marked differences in the prevalence of burnout by specialty. This data provides national benchmarks to help interpret organization-level data on physician burnout.

Research led by the team has established that physician burnout threatens the quality of patient care, patient satisfaction, access to care, and physicians' lives.

See publications for further details.