A Survey of Burnout Among Members of the American Society for Surgery of the Hand

J Hand Surg Am. 2020 Jul;45(7):573-581.e16. doi: 10.1016/j.jhsa.2020.03.023. Epub 2020 May 26.


Purpose: Physician burnout affects approximately half of US physicians, significantly higher than the general working population. The aims of this study were to determine the prevalence of burnout specifically among hand surgeons and to identify factors unique to the practice of hand surgery that may contribute to burnout.

Methods: A Web-based survey, developed in conjunction with the American Medical Association, was administered to all active and lifetime members of the American Society for Surgery of the Hand using the Mini Z Burnout assessment tool. Additional data were collected regarding physician demographics and practice characteristics.

Results: The final cohort included 595 US hand surgeons (American Society for Surgery of the Hand [ASSH] members) and demonstrated that 77% of respondents were satisfied with their job, although 49% regarded themselves as having burnout. Lower burnout rates were correlated with physicians aged older than 65, those who practice in an outpatient setting, practice hand surgery only, visit one facility per week, having a lower commute time, those who performed 10 or fewer surgeries per month, and being considered grandfathered for Maintenance of Certification. It was shown that sex, the use of physician extenders, compensation level, and travel club involvement had no impact on burnout rates.

Conclusions: The survey demonstrated that nearly half of US hand surgeons experience burnout even though most are satisfied with their jobs. There is a need to increase awareness and promote targeted interventions to reduce burnout, such as creating a strong team culture, improving resiliency, and enhancing leadership.

Clinical relevance: Burnout has been shown to affect physicians, their families, patient care, and the health care system as a whole negatively. The findings should promote awareness among hand surgeons and inform future quality improvement efforts targeted at reducing burnout for hand surgeons.

Keywords: Burnout; hand surgeons.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Burnout, Professional* / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Job Satisfaction
  • Prevalence
  • Surgeons*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United States / epidemiology