Nearly half of the rest of respondents reported feeling stressed and having less energy, while only 23.7% reported enjoying their work.
This article was first published on Monday, June 24, 2019 in MedPage Today.
By Ashley Lyles, Staff Writer, MedPage Today
Few cardiologists in a survey said they liked their jobs, with a majority reporting feelings of stress or burnout.
More than 25% of U.S. cardiologists indicated they were burned out, reported Laxmi Mehta, MD, of Ohio State University in Columbus, and colleagues in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.
Nearly half of the rest of respondents reported feeling stressed and having less energy, while only 23.7% reported enjoying their work, the investigators found.
Prior research has shown lower burnout rates among cardiologists than in other medical specialties, which calls for further assessment of possible protective factors, noted the researchers. "By identifying modifiable drivers of burnout, our data may inform efforts to understand the causes of burnout, and to design solutions at an individual and organizational level."
Mid-career cardiologists, those practicing for 8 to 21 years, were more likely to experience burnout when compared with late-career and early-career cardiologists and fellows-in-training (39% vs 28%, 23%, and 10%, respectively; P≤0.01).
Women reported burnout more often than men (31% vs 24%; P≤0.001).
Notably, 57% of respondents experiencing burnout reported increased at-home electronic medical record (EMR) use. However, self-reported poor EMR efficiency was not associated with burnout. Fully 72% reported documentation time demands.
"As cardiologists we should be spending more of our time with out patients face to face addressing their needs and less of the time with the bureaucratic and clerical burden that we are facing now," Mehta emphasized in an interview.
Atop the shortage of physicians, "those who are practicing are increasingly burdened by the bureaucratic, emotional and physical stress of the job. This is an existential threat to the core of our healthcare system," agreed Rachel Bond, MD, of Sun State Cardiology in Chandler, Arizona, who was not involved in the study.
Mehta's group assessed the answers to the Mini-Z survey, a 10-question supplement to the American College of Cardiology's Professional Life Survey sent to its members and fellows-in-training. Surveys were sent to 10,798 physicians and the response rate was about 21%.
The Mini-Z survey addressed personal wellness and the emotional exhaustion aspects of burnout. The 2,274 respondents included 42% women.
Burnout was determined by reporting at least 1 symptom of it, complete burnout feelings, or constant feelings of burnout. Those reporting only feelings of stress, but not burnout, were not included in that group.
The American College of Cardiology has efforts underway to address burnout and to identify where its members stand, where their needs are, and what can be done to help, noted Mehta.
"We are looking at wellness and burnout and how do we address it, and coming up with tool kits and mechanisms, so that the state chapters can use them to address it or engage in the conversation with their members," she told MedPage Today.
"But it's not solely for an organization to hold the burden of burnout on their shoulders. It is an issue for everyone. It's a predominately systemic issue, and not just a resiliency issue," she continued.
However, the study may have underestimated the level of burnout in cardiology, speculated Rachel Bond, MD, of Sun State Cardiology in Chandler, Arizona, who was not involved in the study.
"Those most likely to respond to a survey are the ones less likely to be overwhelmed with clinical, procedural, or administrative duties," Bond noted in an interview with MedPage Today.
Other study limitations included lack of questions related to the consequences of burnout, like intent to lessen productivity or depression, and missing demographic information on survey nonresponders.
Mehta and Bond reported no relevant relationships to disclose.
“As cardiologists we should be spending more of our time with out patients face to face addressing their needs and less of the time with the bureaucratic and clerical burden that we are facing now.”
Laxmi Mehta, MD, Ohio State University
Mid-career cardiologists, those practicing for 8 to 21 years, were more likely to experience burnout.
Women reported burnout more often than men.
Notably, 57% of respondents experiencing burnout reported increased at-home EMR use.