Clinician burnout during the COVID-19 pandemic before vaccine administration

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J Am Pharm Assoc (2003). 2021 Apr 20:S1544-3191(21)00164-3. doi: 10.1016/j.japh.2021.04.009. Online ahead of print.


BACKGROUND: Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has disrupted pharmacy practice. Little research has been done to assess how COVID-19 has affected pharmacists’ employment, workload, and feelings of burnout.

OBJECTIVES: The objectives of this study were to characterize the impact of COVID-19 on pharmacists’ employment status, workload, and feelings of burnout, as well as to examine emotional health concerns related to COVID-19.

METHODS: Wisconsin pharmacists were surveyed using an online instrument between August 25, 2020, and September 22, 2020. The data analysis, performed in December 2020, examined employment status, 3 common burnout risk factors (workload, rewards, and social depersonalization), and emotional health concerns related to COVID-19.

RESULTS: Of the 1300 pharmacists, 439 completed the survey (33.8%). The study analysis included pharmacists in community (n = 127) and hospital or health system (n = 107) settings. With regard to employment changes and workload, hospital pharmacists (36%) were more likely to have their hours reduced than community pharmacists (13%) (P < 0.01), and, conversely, community pharmacists (19%) were more likely to have their hours increased than hospital pharmacists (8%) (P = 0.01). For the burnout domain of workload, 45% of the pharmacists reported increased feelings of physical exhaustion at work, and 53% reported increased feelings of emotional exhaustion at work, with no difference between settings. Regarding the burnout domain of rewards, 6% of the hospital pharmacists and 1% of the community pharmacists experienced a reduction in hourly wages or salaries as a result of COVID-19. For the burnout domain of depersonalization, 25% of the pharmacists reported that their ability to connect with colleagues and patients decreased during the COVID-19 pandemic. Additional emotional health concerns reported by the pharmacists included 40% experiencing more anxiety and 25% experiencing more sadness or depression during the COVID-19 pandemic, with no difference between settings.

CONCLUSION: This study found that the burnout domains related to workload, rewards, and depersonalization were negatively affected by COVID-19. Pharmacy managers need to proactively combat burnout as well as be reactive when employees show signs of burnout to maintain their workforce and meet the COVID-19-associated challenges.

PMID:33962895 | DOI:10.1016/j.japh.2021.04.009