Chung S, Dillon EC, Meehan AE, Nordgren R, Frosch DL., J Gen Intern Med. doi: 10.1007/s11606-020-05770-w. [Epub ahead of print]., 2020 Mar 23
BACKGROUND: Primary care physician (PCP) burnout is prevalent and on the rise. Physician burnout may negatively affect patient experience of care.
OBJECTIVE: To identify the direct impact of PCP burnout on patient experience in various domains of care.
DESIGN: A cross-sectional observational study using physician well-being (PWB) surveys collected in 2016-2017, linked to responses from patient experience of care surveys. Patient demographics and practice characteristics were derived from the electronic health record. Linked data were analyzed at the physician level.
SETTING: A large non-profit multi-specialty ambulatory healthcare organization in northern California.
PARTICIPANTS: A total of 244 physicians practicing internal medicine or family medicine who responded to the PWB survey (response rate 72%), and 30,701 completed experience surveys from patients seeing these physicians.
MEASUREMENTS: Burnout was measured with a validated single-item question with a 5-point scale ranging from (1) enjoy work to (5) completely burned out and seeking help. Patient experience of patient-provider communication, access, and overall rating of provider was measured with Clinician & Group Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers & Systems (CG-CAHPS) survey. Patient experience scores (0-100 scale) were adjusted for age, gender, race/ethnicity, and English proficiency.
RESULTS: Physician burnout had a negative impact on patient-reported experience of patient-provider communication but not on access or overall rating of providers. A one-level increase in burnout was associated with 0.43 decrease in adjusted patient-provider communication experience score (P < 0.01).
LIMITATIONS: Data came from a single large healthcare organization. Patterns may differ for small- and mid-sized practices.
CONCLUSION: Physician burnout adversely affects patient-provider communication in primary care visits. Efforts to improve physician work environments could have a meaningful positive impact on patient experience as well as physician well-being.