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Kidney Med


Rationale & Objective: Burnout decreases job satisfaction and leads to poor patient outcomes but remains under-investigated in nephrology. We explored the prevalence and determinants of burnout among a sample of nephrologists.

Study Design: Cross-sectional.

Setting & Participants: The nephrologists were approached via the American Medical Association Physicians Masterfile, National Kidney Foundation listserv, email, and social media between April and August 2019. The predictors were demographics and practice characteristics. The outcome was burnout, defined as responding "once a week" or more on either 1 of the 2 validated measures of emotional exhaustion and depersonalization or both.

Analytical Approach: Participant characteristics were tabulated. Responses were compared using χ2 tests. Multivariable logistic regression was used to estimate the odds ratios (ORs) of burnout for risk factors. Free text responses were thematically analyzed.

Results: About half of 457 respondents were 40-59 years old (n=225; 49.2%), and the respondents were more predominantly men (n=296; 64.8%), US medical graduates (n=285; 62.4%), and in academic practice (n=286; 62.6%). Overall, 106 (23.2%) reported burnout. The most commonly reported primary drivers of burnout were the number of hours worked (n=27; 25.5%) and electronic health record requirements (n=26; 24.5%). Caring for ≤25 versus 26-75 patients per week (OR, 0.34; 95% confidence interval [95% CI], 0.15-0.77), practicing in academic versus nonacademic settings (OR, 0.33; 95% CI, 0.21-0.54), and spending time on other responsibilities versus patient care (OR, 0.32; 95% CI, 0.17-0.61) were each independently associated with nearly 70% lower odds of burnout after adjusting for age, sex, race, and international medical graduate status. The free text responses emphasized disinterested health care systems and dissatisfaction with remuneration as the drivers of burnout.

Limitations: Inability to precisely capture response rate.

Conclusions: Nearly one-quarter of the nephrologists in our sample reported burnout. Future studies should qualitatively investigate how the care setting, time spent on electronic medical records, and hours of clinical care drive burnout and explore other system-level drivers of burnout in nephrology.

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