While recent studies have suggested that there is a high prevalence of physician burnout, less is known about the impact of such burnout on patient care.
As part of a new study, researchers performed a meta-analysis of 47 studies including 42,473 physicians to explore the link between physician burnout and patient safety, professionalism and patient satisfaction.
They found that physician burnout was associated with two-fold increased odds of unsafe care, low patient satisfaction and unprofessional behaviours. In particular, the depersonalisation component of burnout was associated with a three-fold increased risk for low professionalism and a 4.5-fold increased odds for low patient-reported satisfaction. Links between burnout and low professionalism were stronger in early-career physicians compared with middle- and late-career physicians.
Presenting the findings in JAMA Internal Medicine, the authors highlighted the importance of physician wellness and quality of patient care to healthcare organisation efficiency. “Investments in organisational strategies to jointly monitor and improve physician wellness and patient care outcomes are needed. Interventions aimed at improving the culture of healthcare organisations as well as interventions focused on individual physicians but supported and funded by healthcare organisations, are beneficial,” they said.