Physicians suffering from burnout and worse mental health during pandemic

The Canadian Medical Association (CMA) found that over half of physicians’ mental health has worsened since the start of the pandemic.

Preliminary data collected from the National Physician Health Survey showed that 59% of physicians indicated that their mental health has worsened since the onset of the pandemic.

The survey also showed that more than half of physicians and medical learners (53%) had experienced high levels of burnout, compared to 30% in a similar survey conducted in 2017.

This worsened mental health has been attributed to increased workload and lack of work-life integration, as well as, rapidly changing policies/processes, and other challenges.

It also found that nearly half (46%) of Canadian physicians who responded are considering reducing their clinical work in the next 24 months.

Nearly half of physicians (47%) reported low social well-being levels. Emotional and psychological wellbeing has also suffered compared to pre-pandemic levels.

President of the CMA, Dr. Katherine Smart, said that they were concerned about the findings from the survey.

“We should be deeply alarmed that half of the physician workforce is considering reducing their clinical workload. The downstream impact to patient care will be significant as we are already experiencing access to care issues,” she said. “There is no question that the pandemic has greatly affected our health workforce. As we look to rebuild our health care system, we need to prioritize the people who work within it and call on all governments to take action now.”

The survey’s data was released following an emergency meeting of close to 40 national and provincial health organizations representing Canada’s health workforce who met in a call for urgent action to address the worsening health workforce crisis.

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