Caring for Sick Family Members Exacerbates Burnout in Female Physicians

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Christina Mangurian, MD MAS Professor Department of Psychiatry, Weill Institute for Neurosciences Center for Vulnerable Populations, University of California, San Francisco

Dr. Mangurian

Christina Mangurian, MD MAS
Professor
Department of Psychiatry, Weill Institute for Neurosciences
Center for Vulnerable Populations,
University of California, San Francisco

Veronica Yank, MD Division of General Internal Medicine Department of Medicine University of California, San Francisco

Dr. Yank


Veronica Yank, MD
Assistant Professor
Division of General Internal Medicine
Department of Medicine
University of California
San Francisco

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: This article is about the behavioral health and burnout consequences among physician mothers who are caring for seriously ill loved ones. Our work was inspired, in part, by some of the authors’ own experiences caring for loved ones with serious illnesses while also being physician mothers themselves.  We sought to determine the proportion of physician mothers with such caregiving responsibilities beyond their patients and children and the how these additional responsibilities affected the women’s health and practice.

MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings?

Response: Using an online survey of 5,613 physician mothers performed in 2016, we found that one in six physician moms balance career, motherhood and caretaking of a seriously ill loved one. Physician mothers with these additional caregiving responsibilities vs those without experienced significantly higher rates of mood or anxiety disorders (39% vs 32%) and burnout (45% vs 37%), and these differences remained significant in adjusted comparisons. In contrast, frequencies of career dissatisfaction, risky drinking, and substance abuse were similar in physicians with and without additional caregiving responsibilities.

MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?

Response: Physician mothers who care for seriously ill children, spouses, parents, or others experience worse behavioral health and burnout than other physician moms. To to address burnout and improve workforce retention, health systems and Universities should develop new approaches to identify and address the needs of these physician moms. 

MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work?

Response: We suggest further exploration of informal caregiving as a potential contributor to the disproportionate prevalence of mental health problems and burnout among some women physicians. We also recommend future investigations on the impact of caregiving for a seriously ill loved one on male physicians and female physicians who are not mothers. 

Disclosures: Dr. Yank is supported by grants from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (K23DK097308 and 5P30DK092924), the Mount Zion Health Fund (20180728/P0514743), and the National Institute on Aging (1R01AG057855). Dr. Mangurian was supported by a grant from the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH; K23MH093689) at the time of the study and is currently supported by additional grants from NIMH (R01MH112420), the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (R03DK101857) and the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation’s Fund to Retain Clinician Scientists.

Citation:

Yank V, Rennels C, Linos E, Choo EK, Jagsi R, Mangurian C. Behavioral Health and Burnout Among Physician Mothers Who Care for a Person With a Serious Health Problem, Long-term Illness, or Disability. JAMA Intern Med. Published online January 28, 2019. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2018.6411

Jan 31, 2019 @ 1:20 pm

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