Author(s): Jodie EckleberryHunt, Heather Kirkpatrick, Kanako Taku, Ronald Hunt, Rashmi Vasappa
OBJECTIVES: Although we know much about work-related physician burnout and the subsequent negative effects, we do not fully understand work-related physician wellness. Likewise, the relation of wellness and burnout to physician happiness is unclear. The purpose of this study was to examine how physician burnout and wellness contribute to happiness.
METHODS: We sampled 2000 full-time physician members of the American Academy of Family Physicians. Respondents completed a demographics questionnaire, questions about workload, the Physician Wellness Inventory, the Maslach Burnout Inventory, and the Subjective Happiness Scale. We performed a hierarchical regression analysis with the burnout and wellness subscales as predictor variables and physician happiness as the outcome variable.
RESULTS: Our response rate was 22%. Career purpose, personal accomplishment, and perception of workload manageability had significant positive correlations with physician happiness. Distress had a significant negative correlation with physician happiness.
CONCLUSIONS: A sense of career meaning and accomplishment, along with a lack of distress, are important factors in determining physician happiness. The number of hours a physician works is not related to happiness, but the perceived ability to manage workload was significantly related to happiness. Wellness-promotion efforts could focus on assisting physicians with skills to manage the workload by eliminating unnecessary tasks or sharing workload among team members, improving feelings of work accomplishment, improving career satisfaction and meaning, and managing distress related to patient care.