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J Oncol Pract. 2005 Nov;1(4):140-7.

Prevalence of burnout in the u.s. Oncology community: results of a 2003 survey.

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  • 1Network for Medical Communication and Research, Atlanta GA, and Biostatistical Program, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA.



To investigate the level of burnout in the oncology community in the United States.


Seven thousand seven hundred fifteen oncology physicians were queried by e-mail or during attendance at oncologic meetings and asked to complete a 22-question survey concerning their feelings of personal burnout and their perceptions of physician burnout in the oncology community. The data were analyzed using standard statistical methods including a multivariate analyses using logistic regression with stepwise selection.


One thousand seven hundred forty oncologists (22.6%) completed and returned the survey, with 92.6 % representing medical oncologists or hematologist-oncologists. Two thirds of the respondents were from community practice and one third from academia. Overall, 61.7% of the respondents reported feelings of burnout, with the top three signs being frustration (78%), emotional exhaustion (69%), and lack of satisfaction with their work (50%). The highest-ranked causes for their feelings of burnout included overwork, lack of time away from the office, and reimbursement concerns. The top remedies for burnout were felt to be fewer patients, more time away from the office, and increased attendance at medical meetings. The multivariate analyses demonstrated highly significant associations between burnout and hours spent on patient care, personal time off, and number of educational meetings attended.


The rate of burnout in the oncology community of the United States exceeds 60%. This report suggests causes and potential solutions for the high rate of burnout. Such information may lead to an improved understanding of the needed steps to improve the quality of life for the oncology community with the ultimate goal of further improving patient care. Patients deserve optimal medical and emotional support that is best provided by caring and well-informed practitioners.

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