UBC Faculty Research and Publications

Cross-sectional survey on physician burnout during the COVID-19 pandemic in Vancouver, Canada : the role of gender, ethnicity and sexual orientation Khan, Nadia; Palepu, Anita; Dodek, Peter M.; Salmon, Amy; Leitch, Heather; Ruzycki, Shannon; Townson, Andrea; Lacaille, Diane


Objective To determine the prevalence of physician burnout during the pandemic and differences by gender, ethnicity or sexual orientation. Design, setting and participants We conducted a cross-sectional survey (August–October in 2020) of internal medicine physicians at two academic hospitals in Vancouver, Canada. Primary and secondary outcomes Physician burnout and its components, emotional exhaustion, depersonalisation and personal accomplishment were measured using the Maslach Burnout Inventory. Results The response rate was 38% (n=302/803 respondents, 49% women,). The prevalence of burnout was 68% (emotional exhaustion 63%, depersonalisation 39%) and feeling low personal accomplishment 22%. In addition, 21% reported that they were considering quitting the profession or had quit a position. Women were more likely to report emotional exhaustion (OR 2.00, 95% CI: 1.07 to 3.73, p=0.03) and feeling low personal accomplishment (OR 2.26, 95% CI: 1.09 to 4.70, p=0.03) than men. Visible ethnic minority physicians were more likely to report feeling lower personal accomplishment than white physicians (OR 1.81, 95% CI: 1.28 to 2.55, p=0.001). There was no difference in emotional exhaustion or depersonalisation by ethnicity or sexual orientation. Physicians who reported that COVID-19 affected their burnout were more likely to report any burnout (OR: 3.74, 95% CI: 1.99 to 7.01, p<0.001) and consideration of quitting or quit (OR: 3.20, 95% CI: 1.34 to 7.66, p=0.009). Conclusion Burnout affects 2 out of 3 internal medicine physicians during the pandemic. Women, ethnic minority physicians and those who feel that COVID-19 affects burnout were more likely to report components of burnout. Further understanding of factors driving feelings of low personal accomplishment in women and ethnic minority physicians is needed.

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