The Personal and Professional Consequences of Physician Burnout: A Systematic Review of the Literature

Med Care Res Rev. 2020 Oct;77(5):371-386. doi: 10.1177/1077558719856787. Epub 2019 Jun 19.


The well-being of the health care workforce has emerged as both a major concern and as a component of the "quadruple aim" to enable the "triple aim" of improving patient experiences, reducing costs, and improving population health. Physician burnout is problematic given its effects on physicians, patients, health care organizations, and society. Using conservation of resources theory as a frame, we conducted a systematic review of the empirical literature on the relationship of physician burnout with physician personal and professional outcomes that includes 43 articles. Nine outcomes were organized into three categories illustrating burnout as a dynamic loss spiral rather than a static end-state. Findings show that emotional exhaustion had the greatest impact with the outcomes explored, while depersonalization and lack of professional accomplishment manifested fewer associations. The results suggest that burnout is a complex, dynamic phenomenon, which unfolds over time. Future research and implications of these results are discussed.

Keywords: alcohol abuse; burnout; depression; intention to turnover; physician; professional; suicide.