Burnout in Diplomates of the American Board of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation—Prevalence and Potential Drivers: A Prospective Cross-Sectional Survey

James A. Sliwa*, Gary S. Clark, Anthony Chiodo, Carolyn L. Kinney, Mikaela M. Raddatz, Gerard E. Francisco, William Micheo, Lawrence R. Robinson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Background: Physician burnout is of growing concern. Burnout among physical medicine and rehabilitation (PM&R) physicians has shown a significant increase, positioning PM&R as one of the most “burned out” of specialties. Little has been written about potential factors contributing to physiatrist burnout or potential interventions. Objective: To determine the prevalence of burnout among physiatrists and identify risk factors for burnout and potential strategies to decrease burnout among physiatrists. Design: Prospective cross-sectional survey. Setting: National survey of board certified physiatrists. Participants: One thousand five hundred thirty-six physiatrists certified by the American Board of PM&R. Outcome: The Mini-Z Burnout Survey, 1 question from the Maslach Burnout Scale on callousness toward patients, and several potential drivers of burnout. The probability of burnout, identified by question 3 on the Mini-Z, was the dependent variable. Other questions on the Mini-Z were explored as independent variables using logistic regression. Results: Seven hundred seventy physiatrists (50.7%) fulfilled the definition of burnout. Only 38% of physiatrists reported not becoming more callous toward patients. The top 3 causes of burnout identified by physiatrists were increasing regulatory demands, workload and job demands, and practice inefficiency and lack of resources. Higher burnout rate was associated with high levels of job stress and working more hours per week. Lower burnout rates were associated with higher job satisfaction, control over workload, professional values aligned with those of department leaders, and sufficient time for documentation. There was no significant association between burnout and sex, years in practice, practice focus, or practice area. Conclusion: Burnout is a significant problem among PM&R physicians and is pervasive throughout the specialty. Opportunities exist to address major contributing drivers of burnout relating to practice patterns and efficiency of care within PM&R. These opportunities are, to varying degrees, under the control of hospital leaders, practice administrators, and practitioners.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)83-89
Number of pages7
JournalPM and R
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation
  • Rehabilitation
  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology


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