Women, Mid-Career Cardiologists Most Likely to Report Symptoms of Burnout

More than one of three cardiologists in the U.S. report feeling burned out, according to results of an ACC survey presented March 28 in a Featured Clinical Research session during ACC.20/WCC.

Laxmi Mehta, MD, FACC, et al., sought to measure how common stress and burnout are among cardiologists, explore whether certain cardiologists are more likely to experience symptoms and identify what might be exacerbating these feelings. The researchers surveyed 19,348 cardiologists, fellows-in-training and cardiovascular team members via email.

Results showed that of the 2,025 cardiologists who responded to the survey (1,652 men, 362 women, 11 declined), 35.4% reported burnout and 43.9% said they were stressed. It was up to respondents to define what “burnout” meant to them, but they were given prompts to assess the degree to which they felt overloaded. Of those who reported burnout, 23.9% said they were experiencing one or more symptoms, such as emotional exhaustion, 9.9% said they had chronic symptoms of burnout and 1.6% said they felt completely burned out to the point of needing to seek outside help.

Mid-career cardiologists who had between eight and 21 years of experience most often reported being burnt out (45.3%) when compared with early or late-career cardiologists (35.4% and 31.5%, respectively). Burnout was also more common in women than men (45.3% and 33.5% respectively).

Researchers also found that the number of hours cardiologists work each week was directly associated with burnout. Those working more than 60 hours a week reported higher rates of exhaustion and other symptoms of burnout (41.5%), followed by those working 40-60 hours a week (29.5%). Cardiologists who worked less than 40 hours a week were least likely to experience symptoms of burnout (17.9%).

The results showed that cardiologists who are burned out and stressed were more likely to have a hectic work environment, lack of control over workload, insufficient time for documentation and higher electronic medical record usage at home. Cardiologists who felt burned out more frequently spent less than an hour a week on personal time.

“Cardiology remains a highly desirable medical specialty to pursue, but adverse work environments are consistently associated with burnout,” says Mehta. “We need to remember work-life balance is important and to take care of our patients and ourselves.”

The authors of this study plan to examine how stress and burnout affect the entire care team and identify factors that can predict burnout.

Clinical Topics: Congenital Heart Disease and Pediatric Cardiology, Diabetes and Cardiometabolic Disease, Dyslipidemia, Heart Failure and Cardiomyopathies, Prevention, Congenital Heart Disease, CHD and Pediatrics and Prevention, Acute Heart Failure, Stress

Keywords: ACC Annual Scientific Session, acc20, Burnout, Professional, Medical Errors, Heart Defects, Congenital, Dyslipidemias, Heart Failure

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