Rate of doctor burnout in Canada has doubled since before pandemic: survey

Preliminary data from a national survey of doctors in Canada has revealed a concerning trend about the health of those who take care of Canadians.

A survey of 4,000 physicians and medical learners, also known as residents, done by the Canadian Medical Association in November 2021 showed 53 per cent have experienced “high levels” of burnout, compared to only 30 per cent four years before.

And nearly half — or 46 per cent — of doctors are considering reducing their work in clinics in the next two years.

Read more: No moving on from COVID-19 for Canada’s exhausted health workers

Since the start of the pandemic, 59 per cent of physicians said their mental health has taken a turn for the worse since the start of the pandemic. Increased workload and poor work-life integration was attributed by 57 per cent of respondents to the online survey, and 55 per cent said rapidly-changing policies and processes contributed to their worsened mental health.

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Low levels of social well-being were reported in 47 per cent of respondents, up from 29 per cent in 2017. The CMA noted emotional and psychological well-being also suffered compared to pre-pandemic levels.

The 2017 survey used the Mental Health Continuum Short Form to measure mental health using 14 items that correspond to social, emotional and psychological well-being.

A full report on the survey’s findings is expected later this year.

METHODOLOGY: The CMA National Physician Health Survey was conducted in the fall of 2021. The survey was open for five weeks and received more than 4,000 responses from Canadian physicians and medical learners. A fulsome report will be published later this year.

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