Does Burnout, Career Satisfaction Vary by Physician Race/Ethnicity?

Physicians in minority racial/ethnic groups were less likely to report occupational burnout compared with non-Hispanic white physicians, according to a study published Aug. 7 in JAMA Network.

Luis C. Garcia, MS, et al., sought to determine whether there are differences in occupational burnout, depressive symptoms, career satisfaction and work-life integration by race/ethnicity in U.S. physicians by analyzing data from 4,424 physicians (78.7% non-Hispanic White, 12.3% Non-Hispanic Asian, 6.3% Hispanic/Latinx and 2.8% non-Hispanic Black).

The authors classified physicians as having burnout if they had a high score on the emotional exhaustion or depersonalization subscale of the Maslach Burnout Inventory. Burnout was identified in 44.7% of non-Hispanic White physicians, 41.7% of non-Hispanic Asian physicians, 38.5% of non-Hispanic Black physicians and 37.4% of Hispanic/Latinx physicians.

Data showed that non-Hispanic Black physicians were more likely to report satisfaction with work-life integration compared with non-Hispanic white physicians. Researchers did not observe differences in depressive symptoms or career satisfaction by race/ethnicity.

"Future research is needed to identify possible challenges in assessing rates of occupational burnout among physicians in minority racial/ethnic groups, including instrument validation, stigma, and cultural response bias," write the authors of the study.  "Furthermore, there remains a need for additional research to not only confirm our results but also elucidate the factors of mechanisms that might underlie the patterns observed in the present study."

"The work by Garcia and colleagues raises important questions. As the nation grows more diverse, identifying forces undermining the vitality of the physician workforce is as important now as ever, particularly so for physicians from groups underrepresented in medicine," write Joel C. Cantor, ScD, and Dawne M. Mouzon, PhD, MPH, in an accompanying editorial comment. "Fairness dictates that we strive for equal opportunities in health care careers for persons of minority racial/ethnic groups. Improving accessibility and effectiveness of care for underserved patients, especially in these most dire of times, depends on it."

Clinical Topics: Prevention, Stress

Keywords: Burnout, Professional, Ethnic Groups, Personal Satisfaction, Job Satisfaction, Depersonalization, Depression, Hispanic Americans, African Americans, Minority Groups, Pyridazines


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