Content Type

Topic Categories

Date Range

Infographics

Physician Burnout & Moral Injury: The Hidden Health Care Crisis

Published on: March 22, 2021.


76% of health care workers

are reporting exhaustion and burnout

About this Data Insights

The seemingly endless intensity of work, the mounting death totals and the indifferent attitudes many Americans display toward COVID safety precautions has caused depression, burnout and moral injury for a growing number of physicians. Physician burnout started long before COVID-19, but the pandemic has greatly caused the crisis. More than 70 percent of physicians say they are experiencing burnout, which takes a toll on their health and quality of life, not to mention the impact it has on their patients. Some experts have predicted that if left unaddressed, burnout will further erode the mental health of physicians and undermine patient care and the health care system.

This infographic explores physician burnout and moral injury both before and during COVID-19, top causes for burnout, the mental health stigma that still exists in the medical community, the impact for patients and the health care system, and what can be done to address this growing crisis.


If you are experiencing a mental health crisis call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) to reach a 24-hour crisis center, or text MHA to 741741 to reach a trained Crisis Counselor 24/7

Physician Support Line is a national, free, and confidential support line created to provide peer support for physician and American medical students as we all navigate the COVID-19 epidemic. Call: 1-888-409-0141

Citations
Show Details Hide Details

Burnout definition: World Health Organization (WHO), Burn-out an "occupational phenomenon": International Classification of Diseases, March 28, 2019

Burnout in 2019: National Academy of Medicine, Taking Action Against Clinician Burnout: A Systems Approach to Professional Well-Being - Highlights, October 2019

Health care burnout in 2020: Mental Health America (MHA), The Mental Health of Healthcare Workers in COVID-19

  • NOTE: This survey is based on the responses of 1,119 healthcare workers using MHA Screening (mhascreening.org) from June 1-September 1, 2020.

Who is burned out most among physicians: Medscape, ‘Death by 1000 Cuts': Medscape National Physician Burnout & Suicide Report 2021, January 22, 2021

Moral Injury: Kaiser Health News, Beyond Burnout: Docs Decry ‘Moral Injury’ From Financial Pressures Of Health Care, February 4, 2020


Top causes for physician burnout: Medscape, ‘Death by 1000 Cuts': Medscape National Physician Burnout & Suicide Report 2021, January 22, 2021

  • NOTE: More than 12,000 Physicians in over 29 specialites participated in the survey. Date was collected from August 30 - November 10, 2020

Physicians are more likely to quit their jobs: Scientific American, Psychological Trauma Is the Next Crisis for Coronavirus Health Workers, June 1, 2020

Depression among physicians: Medscape, ‘Death by 1000 Cuts': Medscape National Physician Burnout & Suicide Report 2021, January 22, 2021

Suicide and suicidal feelings among physicians: Medscape, ‘Death by 1000 Cuts': Medscape National Physician Burnout & Suicide Report 2021, January 22, 2021

Suicide rate among physicians: Medscape, Physicians Experience Highest Suicide Rate of Any Profession, May 7, 2018

Private practices closing: The Physicians Foundation, 2020 Survey of America’s Physicians - COVID Impact Edition, August 2020

  • NOTE: The survey data was collected from July 15 to July 26, 2020 over email. Data is based on 3,513 responses.
  • NOTE: 39 percent of physicians who responded to the survey practice primary care, the remaining 61 percent practice various surgical, internal medicine, diagnostic or other specialties.
  • NOTE: There are more than 200,000 medical practices in the U.S., according to data from market research firm SK&A. The closure of eight percent of them would entail the potential loss of more than 16,000 medical practices. (This is an approximate number, as each of the physicians who indicated they closed their practice may not represent a single practice – some may belong to the same practice.)

Private practices closing: The Physicians Foundation, 2020 Survey of America’s Physicians - COVID Impact Edition, August 2020

  • NOTE: The survey data was collected from July 15 to July 26, 2020 over email. Data is based on 3,513 responses.

Physician shortage: Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), U.S. physician shortage growing, June 26, 2020

Steps to Reduce Burnout

Reduce Administrative Burdens:

Encourage Self-care:

  • Self-care in medical schools: American Medical Student Association (AMSA), Staying Sane: Addressing the Growing Concern of Mental Health in Medical Students, September 8, 2015
  • Mental health stigma among physicians: Mehta, S. S., & Edwards, M. L. (2018). Suffering in silence: Mental health stigma and physicians' licensing fears. American Journal of Psychiatry Residents' Journal, 13(11), 2-4. doi:10.1176/appi.ajp-rj.2018.131101

Modify Work Schedules:

  • Time banking: Guidway Care, Reducing Physician Burnout: 5 Strategies, January 13, 2020
  • Work-hour limitations: Patel RS, Sekhri S, Bhimanadham NN, Imran S, Hossain S. A Review on Strategies to Manage Physician Burnout. Cureus. 2019;11(6):e4805. Published 2019 Jun 3. doi:10.7759/cureus.4805

Enable Technology Solutions:

Additional Resources
Show Details Hide Details

More Related Articles