Mayo Clinic finds physician burnout may increase racial bias   

A study out of Rochester, Minn.-based Mayo Clinic found burnout is associated with greater levels of implicit and explicit racial bias among physicians. 

Published July 26 in JAMA Network Open, the study involved 3,392 nonblack residents who were surveyed three times: once during their fourth year of medical school and again during their second and third years of residency. The researchers used the Maslach Burnout Inventory to gauge burnout and an explicit racial bias test that asked participants to rank white and African American people on a scale of favorability. The second year of residency also involved an implicit racial bias test in which participants were asked to sort people of different races into categories like "beautiful," "friend," or "scorn." 

The researchers found 45.2 percent of participants had burnout and 41.3 percent had depression. Higher levels of burnout — exhibited by emotional exhaustion, depersonalization and decreased productivity — were associated with greater explicit and implicit racial biases. The researchers also found residents who recovered from burnout in their third year had less explicit racial bias as well. 

"Given the high prevalence of burnout among resident physicians and the negative association between bias and suboptimal medical care, symptoms of burnout may be factors in disparities in care," the researchers note. "[T]he implications for the quality of care provided to black people and other disadvantaged groups could be substantial." 

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More articles on integration and physician issues:

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