Burnout syndrome affects 4 out of 10 physicians in Japan Burnout syndrome affects 4 out of 10 physicians in Japan – SOMETHING ABOUT SCIENCE

Burnout syndrome affects 4 out of 10 physicians in Japan

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More than 40% of Japanese physicians involved in stroke care are burned out, a recent report suggests.

Burnout syndrome is characterized by emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, and reduced work efficacy. For medical practitioners, the syndrome could pose danger and serious concerns; it may drive physicians to err or quit the profession. A research team in Japan conducted a nationwide survey to investigate the prevalence of burnout syndrome among neurosurgeons and neurologists.

The study included responses from 2,564 physicians, who were asked to record self-assessed scores on emotional exhaustion, cynicism, and professional efficacy.

The survey revealed that 41.1% of physicians who participated in the study are burned out and 21.8% exhibited severe burnout. These rates are much higher than that of the general population in Japan, the authors of the study comment.

The researchers observed inverse correlations between burnout and several variables, including sleep durations, day-offs, years of experience, and income. They identified potential risk factors of burnout: heavy workload, lack of sleep, relatively little experience, and low mental quality of life. The authors point out, however, that further studies are necessary to identify any direct causal relationship between burnout and the said potential risk factors.

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Just how overwhelmed are Japanese physicians in stroke care? The average workload of general population in Japan is 45.8 hours per week. The physicians who participated in the study responded that they work 66.3 hours per week on average, with approximately 1 day-off per week. Those who are severely burned out have even longer work hours, more patients under their care, and lower average income than non-burnout physicians.

Japan is not the only country with concerns toward burnout syndrome. Previous studies (1, 2) led by another group showed that about 40% of surgeons in the U.S. are also burned out.

The researchers who conducted the study in Japan suggest interventions to prevent burnout syndrome, such as restricting work hours for the physicians.

The study was carried out by collaboration between National Cerebral and Cardiovascular Center and Kyushu University. The work was published in Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes on May 13.

Lynn Kimlicka

I am a scientist-turned writer and editor, who loves to read and write (more than doing experiments). I have a PhD in biochemistry and molecular biology, with a specialization in structural biology. My interests range widely, from life sciences to pop culture and arts to music. I am bilingual in English and Japanese.

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