Doctors suffering from burnout are far more likely to put patient safety at risk and leave their jobs, new analysis has found.
A team of British and Greek researchers analysed the results of 170 observational studies involving almost 240,000 doctors globally.
Burnout was associated with an almost four-fold decrease in job satisfaction and a three-fold increase in doctors regretting their career choice.
Doctors suffering feelings of burnout were also more likely to consider leaving their job, put patient safety at risk, and be less productive.
The study, published in the British Medical Journal, says: “We found that physicians with burnout were up to four times more likely to be dissatisfied with their job compared with being satisfied with their job, three times as likely to have thoughts or intentions to quit their job (turnover) compared with job retention, and three times as likely to regret their career choice compared with being satisfied with their career choice.
“Emotional exhaustion contributed most to increases in the turnover intention of physicians compared with retention. The association of physician burnout with lower job satisfaction compared with increased job satisfaction was more prevalent in older physicians working in emergency medicine and intensive care.”
The researchers conclude that there should be more investment in strategies to monitor and reduce burnout among doctors, including those that improve the culture in healthcare.
Dr Latifa Patel, the chair of the British Medical Association’s representative body, said: “This report will not be a surprise to doctors and medical students. Burnout is not just a question of personal wellbeing or career satisfaction – it is a matter of patient safety.
“Tired, undervalued and understrength doctors cannot work to the best of their abilities and these figures throw into disturbing relief what that means for patient care.
“The tragic consequences of burnout have their root in the workforce crisis, and if the NHS cannot recruit or retain its staff, the vicious cycle of poor patient care will only accelerate.”