Survey: Majority of Americans Concerned About Healthcare Worker Burnout

The issue of healthcare professional burnout is a major concern for 74% of Americans, according to a new survey released this week by the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP).

The survey was conducted online in May by The Harris Poll on behalf of ASHP, polling 2,000 U.S. adults. It follows a 2018 study published in the American Journal of Health-System Pharmacy (AJHP) that found 53% of pharmacists reported a high degree of burnout caused by increased stress and job demands. In addition, a Mayo Clinic study found that burnout costs the U.S. healthcare system approximately $4.6 billion per year.

“Pharmacists, as patient care providers and members of the healthcare team, strive to provide the best quality of care to their patients. But with chronic job stressors many clinicians are experiencing symptoms of burnout,” said ASHP CEO Paul W. Abramowitz, PharmD, ScD. (Hon.), FASHP, in a release. “We believe that fostering and sustaining the well-being and resiliency of the pharmacy workforce is in the best interest of patients and the healthcare system as a whole. ASHP has had a longstanding commitment to working with our members and their patients and colleagues to raise awareness and advance solutions to help prevent burnout in healthcare.”

In the ASHP survey, a quarter of Americans said they believe hospital pharmacists (26%) and retail pharmacists (25%) are often burned out. The AJHP study found that pharmacists say burnout is driven by increased workloads, periodic drug shortages, and demands from electronic health records, insurance, and regulatory requirements.

The new poll found that 91% of respondents feel it is important that their doctor, pharmacist, nurse, or other healthcare professional should do whatever is necessary to avoid burnout. Another 77% said that when they notice their clinician feeling burned out, they become concerned about their own care and safety.

Patients are aware of healthcare professional burnout, with 47% saying they would avoid asking questions if they thought their care provider appeared burned out so as not to add to the provider’s stress.

ASHP recently rolled out a new portal, WellBeing & You, to provide pharmacists, student pharmacists, and pharmacy technicians with a place to share their experiences with burnout and find resources to help them deal with the issue. To boost resilience, ASHP encourages healthcare organizations to:

  • Recognize the presence and risk of burnout in the workplace
  • Identify risk factors for burnout
  • Form a committee to explore burnout causes and resilience solutions
  • Evaluate changes to confirm an increase in employee resilience
  • Celebrate and share improvements