Burnout and Psychological Distress Among Pediatric Critical Care Physicians in the United States*

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Abstract

Objectives:

To estimate the prevalence of physician burnout, psychological distress, and its association with selected personal and practice characteristics among pediatric critical care physicians and to evaluate the relationship between burnout and psychological distress.

Design:

Cross-sectional, online survey.

Setting:

Pediatric critical care practices in the United States.

Subjects:

Pediatric critical care physicians.

Interventions:

None.

Measurement and Main Results:

A nonrandom sample of 253 physicians completed an online survey consisting of personal and practice characteristics, the Maslach Burnout Inventory, and the General Health Questionnaire. Nearly half of the participants (49%; 95% CI, 43–55%; n = 124) scored high burnout in at least one of the three subscales of the Maslach Burnout Inventory and 21% reported severe burnout. The risk of any burnout was about two times more in women physicians (odds ratio, 1.97; 95% CI, 1.2–3.4). Association between other personal or practice characteristics and burnout was not evident in this study, while regular physical exercise appeared to be protective. One third of all participants (30.5%) and 69% of those who experienced severe burnout screened positive for psychological distress. About 90% of the physicians reporting severe burnout have considered leaving their practice.

Conclusions:

Burnout is high among pediatric critical care physicians in the United States. About two thirds of the physicians with severe burnout met the screening criteria for psychological distress that suggests possible common mental disorders. Significant percentages of physicians experiencing burnout and considering to leave the profession has major implications for the critical care workforce.

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