Prevalence of Burnout: More Than Numbers

Healthcare professionals in medical facilities, hospitals, clinics, and other health-related services are experiencing dangerous rates of burnout.

It’s widely recognised as a severely debilitating job-related syndrome. A general definition usually describes its three component parts: emotional exhaustion, cynical detachment and lower levels of competency.

Studies done in 45 countries from 1991-2018, using the Maslach Burnout Inventory (MBI), showed between 63% and 72% of health professionals had experienced at least one component of burnout. Reviewers, however, noted problems with definitions, and the way the responses were interpreted.

Another review estimated burnout among physicians at 1 in 3 but agreed that reported incidence of burnout varies worldwide‘.

A 2020 Medscape report found burnout among specialists ranged from 34% to 54%.

The prevalence of burnout is further blurred because it relies on self-reporting.

Even if statistical results are not entirely consistent, the lived experience is real.

Tired doctors in protective medical mask sit on corridor

Burnout is also frequently stigmatised, which can be a devastating extra blow for sufferers. 

Burnout has enormous significance for the healthcare industry:

  • Practitioners’ physical and emotional health, and the quality of their relationships are in jeopardy
  • Exhaustion and potential medical errors put patients at risk
  • Employing institutions bear the burdens of absenteeism, low morale, and legal liability.

There is also a hidden cost. We are often unaware of the longer-term effects on those who experience burnout: the loss of self-confidence, nagging self-doubt, fewer job opportunities, and the stalling of careers.

If approximately 1 in 3 healthcare workers experiences burnout, perhaps you should ask yourself whether you are at risk.

  • Are you exhausted every day?
  • Do you care less about your work, and find tasks dull and pointless?
  • Do you feel you and your contributions are worthless, unappreciated?
  • Are your personal interactions, at home and at work, suffering as a result?

There is no shame or stigma attached to burnout. If you are concerned, support is always available at Peer Reachout.