Burnout, depression prevalent among psychiatrists

23 Oct 2020
The struggle is real: physician burnout and the causative stressors

Psychiatrists appear to need psychiatric help themselves as seen in the substantial rates of burnout and depression in the profession, reports a North American study.

“This study advances the understanding of factors that increase the risk for burnout and depression among psychiatrists and has implications for the development of targeted interventions to reduce the high rates of burnout and depression among psychiatrists,” the authors said.

A total of 2,084 psychiatrists in North America participated in an online survey. They completed the Oldenburg Burnout Inventory (OLBI) and the Patient Health Questionnaire–9 (PHQ-9) and provided demographic data and practice information. Factors associated with higher burnout and depression scores were determined through linear regression analysis.

Participants had a mean OLBI score of 40.4 and mean PHQ-9 score of 5.1. Seventy-eight percent of psychiatrists (n=1,625) had an OLBI score 35, suggesting high burnout levels, and 16.1 percent (n=336) had PHQ-9 scores 10, suggesting a diagnosis of major depression.

Higher OLBI scores significantly correlated with female gender, presence of depressive symptoms, inability to control one’s schedule, and work setting. Higher PHQ-9 scores significantly correlated with female gender, burnout, resident or early-career stage, and nonacademic setting practice.

Notably, 98 percent of psychiatrists with PHQ-9 scores 10 also had OLBI scores >35. Suicidal ideation, on the other hand, did not significantly correlate with burnout in a partially adjusted linear regression model.

“These findings have significance for future work aimed at workforce retention and improving quality of care for psychiatric patients,” the authors said.

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