shutterstock_197629736-1More than half of US physicians are experiencing professional burnout, new research shows.

The study conducted by Mayo Clinic researchers in partnership with the American Medical Association compared data from 2014 to metrics they collected in 2011. The findings appear in Mayo Clinic Proceedings.

 Watch a video discussing the results.

These dimensions remained largely unchanged among US workers in general, resulting in a widening gap between physicians and workers in other fields.

“Burnout manifests as emotional exhaustion, loss of meaning in work, and feelings of ineffectiveness,” says Tait Shanafelt, MD, a hematologist at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. “What we found is that more physicians in almost every specialty are feeling this way, and that’s not good for them, their families, the medical profession, or patients.”

Burnout leads to poor care, physician turnover, and a decline in the overall quality of the healthcare system, the researchers point out. In the 2011 survey, 45% of physicians met the burnout criteria, with the highest rates occurring in the “front lines” — general internal medicine, family medicine, and emergency medicine. In 2014, 54% of responding physicians had at least one symptom of burnout. Satisfaction with work-life balance also declined.

Other highlights of the survey include:

* Physician burnout is up 10% over the last 3 years

* Burnout rates are up across almost all specialties

* No overall increase in physician work hours was reported

* No increase in rates of depression was observed among physicians

To help combat physician burnout. more needs to be done by healthcare organizations to improve the efficiency of the practice environment, reduce the clerical burden, and provide physicians greater flexibility and control over work.

The survey results were based on 6,880 physicians across the United States—a 19% response rate—as well as a population based sample of 5,313 working US adults in other fields.