Burnout is a state of physical or emotional exhaustion and disconnectedness induced by continuous stress that affects various aspects of an individual’s life. Physicians experience burnout at a higher rate than other professions due to the highly stressful nature of their work. Consequently, physicians are at a higher risk of suicide than dentists, lawyers, farmers, educators, and police officers. However, current research on reducing physician and care team burnout focuses on the symptoms rather than systematic and organizational root causes. The objective of this thesis is to investigate root causes of physician and care team burnout, through an exploratory literature and data analysis.
The investigation set out by first identifying burnout trends in the literature, considered predictors, and suggested interventions. Workload and satisfaction are two of many identified predictors. However, little is known about the effects of burnout on turnover rates. An examination of proposed interventions revealed cognitive-restructuring and behavioral-activation techniques are most effective in reducing burnout when implemented through culture-driven strategies. However, culture-driven intervention strategies are rare. The Conceptual Change Model is an identified culture-driven intervention strategy that focuses on behavior change. The model aims at transforming employees’ behaviors from a reactive approach to one that promotes proactive engagement in the workplace as it has proven to be successful in implementing effective change. The literature calls for an understanding of the relationship between behaviors in healthcare and burnout.
A survey is used to explore the relationship between the identified potential predictors (turnover and learning behaviors) and burnout in organizations located in the United States, United Kingdom, France, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Indonesia, and Australia. This research used Mazur, McCrery, and Chen’s (2012) framework of behavior in healthcare to classify participant’s behaviors. The Maslach Burnout Inventory was used to measure burnout. The survey also measured turnover rate and its impact.
Survey findings indicate that care team members who exhibit a reflective approach towards obstacles in the workplace report lower rates of burnout. Additionally, physician turnover rates may have an influence on care team burnout. With higher turnover, the higher the burnout reported. Further research is needed to validate the findings observed in this study.