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Risk Factors in Six Areas Tied to Physician Burnout

Tool gauging burnout focuses on workload, control, rewards, community, fairness, values

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THURSDAY, April 27, 2017 (HealthDay News) -- Physician burnout factors include control, whether there is time to deliver excellent care, and whether the workplace is fair, according to a presentation at the Medical Group Management Association/American Medical Association 2017 Collaborate in Practice Conference, held April 9 to 11 in Chicago.

Christina Maslach, Ph.D., from the University of California, Berkeley, developed the Maslach Burnout Inventory, a tool to gauge workplace burnout. During the presentation she said that burnout often is caused by the breakdown of at least one of six areas of work life, including workload, control, rewards, community, fairness, and values conflicts.

However, Maslach cautioned that burnout risk factors should be measured and addressed at an organizational level. Organizations need to demonstrate a long-term commitment -- at least six months -- to the process of improving in these areas. In addition, organizations should address these issues when things are stable, not at a time of adversity. Last, she said engagement counters burnout, so groups or institutions should try to encourage the building of positive professional relationships.

"I am not opposed to helping people become more resilient," but because "burnout is often mistakenly labeled as a problem of individuals," Maslach says, the classic one-on-one approach leaves "the underlying system and cultural problems unaddressed."

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