Self-care as a professional imperative: physician burnout, depression, and suicide.

Journal Article (Journal Article;Review)

PURPOSE: Burnout has been identified in approximately half of all practicing physicians, including anesthesiologists. In this narrative review, the relationship between burnout, depression, and suicide is explored, with particular attention to the anesthesiologist. Throughout this review, we highlight our professional imperative regarding this epidemic. SOURCE: The authors searched the existing English language literature via PubMed from 1986 until present using the search terms physician burnout, depression, and suicide, with particular attention to studies regarding anesthesiologists and strategies to address these problems. PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: Burnout and depression have increased among physicians, while the rate of suicide has remained relatively the same. There are many factors associated with burnout and depression as well as many causes. Certain individual factors include sex, amount of social support, and mental health history. Systems factors that play a role in burnout and depression include work compression, demands of electronic health records, production pressure, and lack of control over one's professional life. Medical license applications include questions that reinforce the stigma of psychological stresses and discourage physicians from seeking appropriate care. CONCLUSION: The concept of physician well-being is multidimensional and includes factors related to each physician as an individual as well as to the working environment. Anesthesiologists must actively engage in self-care. Anesthesiology practices and healthcare organizations should evaluate the balance between demands they place on physicians and the resources provided to sustain an engaged, productive, and satisfied physician workforce. National efforts must be rallied to support physicians seeking help for physical and psychological health problems.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Kuhn, CM; Flanagan, EM

Published Date

  • February 2017

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 64 / 2

Start / End Page

  • 158 - 168

PubMed ID

  • 27910035

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1496-8975

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1007/s12630-016-0781-0


  • eng

Conference Location

  • United States