Burnout and Stress in Medicine in the 21st Century: Catastrophe or Opportunity?


Burnout and stress occur in all aspects of life and are considered by many to be increasing in our modern-day culture. These have been studied most often in relation to the workplace and are prevalent in all occupations. As a result, growing numbers of people are consulting physicians for stress-related complaints. Patients may look to their doctors as role models in their quest to obtain optimal physical and mental health. However, the prevalence of burnout in physicians is increasing at a much greater rate than in all other professional groups (1). Anecdotal evidence from social media attributes the issue of burnout to simply
being involved in the practice of medicine, rather than premorbid psychiatric dysfunction. Whatever the cause, physicians have rates of depression and other related psychiatric disorders equal or greater to those outside the profession (2). Accurate estimates are difficult to ascertain, since physicians are concerned that acknowledging their situation may prevent them from practicing medicine. This intentional underreporting is in part validated by analyses of several confidential surveys of thousands of physicians, with rates of issues such as substance abuse disorders up to 15% (3).

SKU: JSOA-2017-26-3-F1 Category: Tags: , , ,

Cormac A. O’Donovan, MD, FRCPI