Gynecologic oncologists are at a particularly high risk for burnout compared with other specialties, suggesting a need for burnout prevention and wellness programs, according to a study presented at the 48th Annual Meeting of the Society of Gynecologic Oncology.1

Physician burnout disproportionately affects female physicians and is associated with mental illness, alcohol abuse, and job dissatisfaction. To evaluate the impact of burnout on productivity among gynecologic oncologists during the first 15 years of their career, researchers analyzed data from 250 gynecologic oncologists who entered the work force between 2011 and 2015. Of those, 165 were female.

Researchers estimated physician demographics and average annual relative work values (RVU) — a measure of productivity — for academic and private practices using a Society of Gynecologic Oncology practice survey. They then calculated the probability of burnout for males and female physicians and the impact of depression, alcohol use, and early retirement on RVU production using published data.

The maximum RVU production for the total cohort was 26.2 million RVUs over 15 years without burnout. By estimating burnout in 41% and 27% of females and males, respectively, researchers found that RVU production decreased by 5.9%.

Burnout among female gynecologic oncologists leads to a 1.1 million RVU reduction vs 488,000 for males. Burnout results in nearly 1400 fewer publications over 15 years.

Investigators also assessed the impact of a wellness program on burnout. The program reduced burnout by 20%; researchers estimated that it would increase RVU production by 212,000 and increase publications by 277.

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These findings highlight the dramatic impact burnout can have on oncologists, especially those specializing in gynecology, and suggest that interventions like wellness programs are needed to reduce burnout and improve productivity.

Reference

  1. Turner TB, Dilley SE, Smith HJ, et al. The impact of physician burnout on clinical and academic productivity of gynecologic oncologists: A decision analysis. Paper presented at: 48th Annual Meeting of the Society of Gynecologic Oncology; March 12-15, 2017; National Harbor, MD.