Physician burnout lessens when patients' social needs are met, study finds

Physicians who feel their clinic can address patients' unmet social needs are less likely to be burned out, according to a study published earlier this year in The Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine and reported Aug. 1 on the American Medical Association's website.

The study examined a cross-sectional analysis of 1,298 family physicians in ambulatory primary care settings. The physicians completed a self-reported burnout survey, rating their level of burnout on a scale of one (no symptoms of burnout) to five (completely burned out and in need of help).

Twenty-seven percent of the physicians said they were burned out. Physicians who believed their clinic had the ability to meet patients' social needs were less likely to report burnout, however. Those physicians were also over 2 times more likely to have a social worker and over 1.5 times as likely to have a pharmacist on their care team.

The study's authors recommended improving clinics' capacities to respond to social needs as a way to address burnout.

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