70% of physicians work during vacations: 6 notes

About 20% of physicians took less than one week of vacation in the previous year and 70% reported working on their days off, a study found.

The study, published Jan. 12 in JAMA Network Open and led by researchers from Stanford (Calif.) University, the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus in Aurora, Rochester, Minn.-based Mayo Clinic and the American Medical Association, surveyed 3,024 physicians about vacations. About 40% took more than 15 days of vacation in the past year, 40% took six to 15 days and 20% took five days or fewer.

Here are five other findings:

  1. About 70% of physicians worked on patient-related tasks while on vacation and nearly 15% worked an hour or more per day.

  2. About 49% of physicians said their electronic health record inboxes were fully covered by others while they were away. The analysis found complete EHR inbox coverage was linked to lower odds of working during vacation.

  3. Emergency physicians were the least likely to take 15 days of vacation while anesthesiologists were the most likely.

  4. Women were more likely to work more than 30 minutes a day while on vacation compared to men.

  5. Physicians older than 65 were more likely to take more vacation days per year compared to those younger than 35.

Researchers linked lower rates of burnout with taking more than three weeks of vacation per year and less burnout if EHR inboxes are covered during vacation.

"System-level efforts to ensure physicians take adequate vacation and have coverage for clinical responsibilities, including EHR inbox, may reduce physician burnout," the study authors wrote.

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