The Impact of Administrative Burden on Academic Physicians: Results of a Hospital-Wide Physician Survey

Acad Med. 2017 Feb;92(2):237-243. doi: 10.1097/ACM.0000000000001461.


Purpose: To determine the characteristics of clinically active academic physicians most affected by administrative burden; the correlation between administrative burden, burnout, and career satisfaction among academic physicians; and the relative value and burden of specific administrative tasks.

Method: The authors analyzed data from the 2014 Massachusetts General Physicians Organization Survey. Respondents reported the percentage of time they spent on patient-related administrative duties and rated the value and burden associated with specific administrative tasks. A five-point Likert scale and multivariate regression identified predictors of administrative burden and assessed the impact of administrative burden on perceived quality of care, career satisfaction, and burnout.

Results: Of the eligible workforce, 1,774 physicians (96%) responded to the survey. On average, 24% of working hours were spent on administrative duties. Primary care physicians and women reported spending more time on administrative duties compared with other physicians. Two-thirds of respondents reported that administrative duties negatively affect their ability to deliver high-quality care. Physicians who reported higher percentages of time spent on administrative duties had lower levels of career satisfaction, higher levels of burnout, and were more likely to be considering seeing fewer patients in the future. Prior authorizations, clinical documentation, and medication reconciliation were rated the most burdensome tasks.

Conclusions: Administrative duties required substantial physician time and affected physicians' perceptions of being able to deliver high-quality care, career satisfaction, burnout, and likelihood to continue clinical practice. There is variation in administrative burden across specialties, and multiple areas of work contribute to overall administrative workload.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Burnout, Professional*
  • Faculty, Medical / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Job Satisfaction*
  • Male
  • Massachusetts
  • Middle Aged
  • Physicians / statistics & numerical data*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Workload / psychology*