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Linking physician burnout and patient outcomes: Exploring the dyadic relationship between physicians and patients

Halbesleben, Jonathon R. B.; Rathert, Cheryl

doi: 10.1097/01.HMR.0000304493.87898.72
Features

Background: Although patient outcomes of hospital stays have been widely explored, particularly patient satisfaction, there is a dearth of research linking health care provider burnout and patient outcomes at a dyadic level. In this article, we develop and test a model to explain the relationship between dimensions of burnout and patient outcomes, including patient satisfaction and recovery time.

Purpose: The purpose of this article is to explore the relationship between physician burnout and patient satisfaction and the time required to regain normal functioning after hospital discharge.

Methods: This study was based upon a survey of 178 matched pairs of patients and physicians. The patients were people who had been hospitalized within the previous year.

Results: We found support for the notion that the depersonalization dimension of physician burnout was associated with patient outcomes of lower satisfaction and longer post discharge recovery time (after controlling for severity of illness and other demographic factors).

Implications for Practice: The findings suggest that physician burnout has an impact on patient outcomes. Although this is a preliminary study, it suggests that organizations that take proactive steps to reduce burnout through system wide intervention programs will see greater benefits in terms of patient satisfaction and recovery.

Jonathon R. B. Halbesleben, PhD, is Assistant Professor, Department of Management and Marketing, University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. E-mail: halbesjr@uwec.edu.

Cheryl Rathert, PhD, is Assistant Professor, Department of Health Management and Informatics, School of Medicine, University of Missouri, Columbia. E-mail: rathertc@health.missouri.edu.

This study was approved by the University of Oklahoma Institutional Review Board.

© 2008 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.