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Physicians More Likely to Be Burned Out Than Non-Doc Peers

Symptoms of depression more likely among medical students and residents/fellows

TUESDAY, Feb. 18, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Trainees and early-career physicians are more likely to be burned out than control population samples, according to research published online Jan. 20 in Academic Medicine.

Liselotte N. Dyrbye, M.D., M.H.P.E., from the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., and colleagues surveyed medical students, residents/fellows, and early-career physicians (in practice for five years or less), as well as a probability-based sample of the general U.S. population. The authors sought to examine burnout, symptoms of depression and suicidal ideation, quality of life, and fatigue.

The researchers found that being a resident/fellow correlated with elevated odds of burnout; being a medical student correlated with increased odds of depressive symptoms; and early-career physicians had the lowest likelihood of high fatigue, after adjustment for relationship status, sex, age, and career stage. Medical students, resident/fellows, and early-career physicians were all more likely than population control samples to be burned out (all P < 0.0001). Compared with the population control samples, medical students and residents/fellows were more likely to exhibit symptoms of depression, but were not more likely to have experienced recent suicide ideation.

"Training appears to be the peak time for distress among physicians, but differences in the prevalence of burnout, depressive symptoms, and recent suicidal ideation are relatively small," the authors write. "At each stage, burnout is more prevalent among physicians than among their peers in the U.S. population."

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