Study explores the association between physician burnout and sleep disorders

The mental health of a physician working within a hospital system could ultimately affect the quality of life among patients. One of the biggest factors negatively impacting the mental health of physicians is burnout.

According to a new study, sleep deficiency may be one of the biggest factors associated with physician burnout, contributing to poor mental health.

“We sought to identify the prevalence of sleep disorders and estimate the cross-sectional association between sleep disorders and burnout symptoms among faculty and staff in a large teaching hospital system,” the co-authors stated in their new JAMA Network publication.

As part of the new study, a system was constructed known as the Sleep Health and Wellness program, offered to hospital groups. Tablet-based sleep disorder screening between mid-2018 and mid-2019 was presented in conjunction with the program.

“Participants received immediate screening results with an option to directly schedule sleep clinic appointments. Validated survey instruments were used to evaluate risk of obstructive sleep apnea, insomnia, restless legs syndrome, and shift work disorder. Burnout was assessed using the Maslach Burnout Inventory Human Services Survey,” the findings read.

Upon assessing the emotional exhaustion score of the participants, it was concluded that undiagnosed sleep disorders were highly prevalent among workers in a teaching hospital system. Positive screening for a sleep condition led to a nearly 4 times higher risk of occupational burnout, the findings also determined.

“Treatment of sleep disorders may provide a novel means of intervening to reduce physician burnout, which has been resistant to other treatment approaches,” researchers suggested in their publication.

“Further research is needed to determine whether facilitating treatment for common sleep disorders would reduce burnout in physicians.”

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