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Burnout Predicts Clinician Turnover in Primary Care

Findings observed among primary care clinicians, but not staff workforce

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THURSDAY, Feb. 14, 2019 (HealthDay News) -- The prevalence rates of burnout, low engagement, and turnover are all high among primary care clinicians and staff, according to a study published in the January/February issue of the Annals of Family Medicine.

Rachel Willard-Grace, M.P.H., from the University of California San Francisco, and colleagues surveyed 740 primary care clinicians and staff in two San Francisco health systems (2013 to 2014). Survey data on burnout and employee engagement were linked to employment roster data from 2016.

The researchers found that more than half of both clinicians and staff (53 percent) reported burnout, only 32 percent of clinicians and 35 percent of staff reported high engagement, and 30 percent of clinicians and 41 percent of staff no longer worked in primary care in the same system two to three years later. Clinician turnover was predicted by burnout (adjusted odds ratio, 1.57; 95 percent confidence interval, 1.02 to 2.40). There was a strong trend toward low engagement predicting clinician turnover (adjusted odds ratio with high engagement, 0.58; 95 percent confidence interval, 0.33 to 1.04). For staff, neither measure significantly predicted turnover.

"Although reducing clinician burnout may help to decrease rates of turnover, health care organizations and policymakers concerned about employee turnover in primary care need to understand the multifactorial causes of turnover to develop effective retention strategies for clinicians and staff," the authors write.

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