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Study: Do workplace improvements alleviate physician burnout?

Hospitals may be able to improve physician burnout, dissatisfaction, and retention by addressing communication and workflow, according to a recent national study led by Hennepin County Medical Center (HCMC).

The study, “A Cluster Randomized Trial of Interventions to Improve Work Conditions and Clinician Burnout in Primary Care: Results from the Healthy Work Place (HWP) Study,” was supported by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. It appears in the peer-reviewed Journal of General Internal Medicine (JGIM), which is the official journal of the Society of General Internal Medicine.

Results Point to Three Successful Interventions

The national study included 34 clinics – half randomized to work-life interventions, half with no interventions. For the intervention group, physician burnout or satisfaction was 3.5 to 5.9 times more likely to improve than the non-intervention group.

Results broke down into three types of effective strategies:

  1. workflow redesign
  2. communications improvements (between provider groups, in particular)
  3. quality improvement projects targeted to clinician concerns

According to HCMC, “this is the first study to date that has shown a variety of effective interventions in a randomized controlled format, often regarded as the most rigorous of scientific methods.”

HCMC researchers are now taking these data and interventions to more U.S. hospitals through collaborations with the American Medical Association, the American College of Physicians, and the Association of Chiefs and Leaders in General Internal Medicine. These collaborations involve surveying and advising up to 50 divisions throughout the country on the work-life and wellness of their clinicians – and how they can improve their experiences.



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