Mistreatment and Discrimination Take Burnout Toll on Physicians

In 2019, approximately 13,000 healthcare workers reported nonfatal occupational intentional injuries. Little is known about physicians’ mistreatment and discrimination experiences by personal characteristics (e.g., gender and race). A new research article says that physicians who experience mistreatment and discriminatory behaviors by patients, families, and visitors have higher odds of burnout.

  • In the previous year, 29 % of physicians had experienced racially or ethnically offensive comments by patients, families, or visitors.
  • Female physicians (odds ratio 2.33) and Black physicians (odds ratio 1.59) were more likely to report mistreatment or discrimination.
  • Offensive Racial comments were hurled toward 26% of white vs.>55% others. 
  • The researchers scored mistreatment on a scale from 0 to 3 or greater. Higher scores were associated with higher odds of burnout: a score of 3 or greater had an odds ratio of 2.20.
  • Most commonly affected were ER, Urologists, Dermatologists, Psychiatrists, and PM&R doctors. VA and Military settings had higher incidences. 
  • “Efforts to mitigate physician burnout should include attention to patient and visitor conduct,” According to the author. 

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