Burn-out has been included in the 11th Revision of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11) as an “occupational phenomenon”.
While not classified as a medical condition, it is defined as a “syndrome conceptualised as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed” which is characterised by three dimensions, namely: feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion; increased mental distance from one’s job or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one's job; and reduced professional efficacy. While burn-out was also included in ICD-10, this latest definition is more detailed.
The move has been welcomed by the World Medical Association which said the WHO’s new classification will highlight how burn-out affects physicians around the world.
“For too long, burn-out among physicians has been largely ignored. Emotionally exhausted physicians are a danger to patients and a danger to themselves. The cost in terms of human lives and money is appalling.
“The number of suicides among doctors resulting from burn-out is a scandal and I hope that the WHO’s new classification will shine a spotlight on this disgraceful situation,” said WMA President Dr Leonid Eidelman.