Burnout is a syndrome in which a reduced sense of personal accomplishment, depersonalization, and emotional exhaustion develop in response to prolonged stress. It is well known that physicians suffer high rates of burnout; emergency medicine physicians experience significantly increased rates of burnout, whereas physicians in other specialties, like pediatrics, may be spared. Pediatric emergency medicine physicians are on the frontline of care for the critically ill child, which could put them at high risk for burnout. This study evaluates the rate of burnout in pediatric emergency medicine physicians.
We conducted a survey assessing burnout using a sample of pediatric emergency medicine physicians who subscribe to an open Listserv server maintained by Brown University. Burnout was measured using a validated instrument, the Maslach Burnout Inventory-Human Services Survey, which was distributed by e-mail to the study group.
Respondents averaged a score of 9 (95% confidence interval [CI], 8–10), 23 (95% CI, 21–25), and 39 (95% CI, 38–40) in the subscales of depersonalization, emotional exhaustion, and personal accomplishment, respectively. This placed our cohort into the average range for all subscales. The percentage of respondents who scored in the high levels of burnout (moderate to high scores in both depersonalization and emotional exhaustion and low to moderate scores in personal accomplishment) was 25% (95% CI, 18–32).
Unlike previous literature showing burnout prevalence in excess of 60% in emergency medicine physicians and 38% in pediatricians, our pediatric emergency medicine physicians fared better with only 25% (95% CI, 18–32), showing elevated levels of burnout.