(HealthDay News) — A dramatic increase in burnout occurred in US physicians between 2020 and 2021, according to a study published in Mayo Clinical Proceedings.

Tait D. Shanafelt, MD, from Stanford University in Palo Alto, California, and colleagues evaluated the prevalence of burnout and satisfaction with work-life integration (WLI) in US physicians at the end of 2021 vs 2020, 2017, 2014, and 2011. Survey responses from 2440 physicians were included in the analysis.

The researchers found that mean emotional exhaustion and depersonalization scores were higher in 2021 than in all previous years. Mean emotional exhaustion scores increased 38.6% since 2020, while mean depersonalization scores increased 60.7%.

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The percent of physicians with at least 1 manifestation of burnout was higher in 2021 (62.8%) than in 2020 (38.2%), 2017 (43.9%), 2014 (54.4%), and 2011 (45.5%). Trends persisted across nearly all specialties. From 2020 to 2021, satisfaction with WLI declined from 46.1% to 30.2%, while mean scores for depression increased 6.1%.

“Given the association of physician burnout with quality of care, turnover, and reductions in work effort, these findings have profound implications for the US health care system,” the authors wrote.

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