A systematic review of burnout and its relation to work-life balance and scheduling among United States physicians

  • Evan Reinhart
  • Kelsey Reely
  • Kristen Dowdy
  • Nikhil Seth
  • Patrick McGrade MD
  • Clinton Jones
  • M. Jensen Horan
  • Noelle Provenzano
  • Patrick Ramirez
  • Kendall Hammonds
  • Shamyal Khan


Physician burnout has increasingly been recognized as a multifactorial issue leading to detrimental outcomes for both the physician and patients being treated. Burnout is defined as “a pathological syndrome in which emotional depletion and maladaptive detachment develop in response to prolonged occupational stress”.  It has been proven that poor work-life balance (WBL), a state in which personal and professional life are in a state of imbalance, is  connected to burnout. Upwards of 61% of all U.S. physicians are dissatisfied with their WBL. Burnout rates among physicians are correlated with frequency of work-home conflicts leading to greater dissatisfaction of their WLB. With the prevalence of burnout among US physicians ranging between 34-76%, addressing modifiable causes such as optimizing WLB should be a priority for administrators. In this systematic review, we explore the importance of creating schedules that prioritize protecting physicians’ WLB as a means to decrease burnout and the associated sequelae including medical errors, alcohol abuse, and depression. After identifying 202 studies through PubMed; data from 21 articles published between 2011-2017 were analyzed. We found that schedules that emphasize the following were protective of physician WBL: <70-hour work week goals, a maximum of one on-call night per five consecutive days, providing physicians with schedule information one month in advance, limiting the consecutive work days to five and providing vacation time. As the importance of mental health, and wellness within the health care setting are being regarded as a cause of concern, it is apparent that positive changes need to be made.


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How to Cite
Reinhart, E., Reely, K., Dowdy, K., Seth, N., McGrade, P., Jones, C., Horan, M. J., Provenzano, N., Ramirez, P., Hammonds, K., & Khan, S. (2020). A systematic review of burnout and its relation to work-life balance and scheduling among United States physicians. The Southwest Respiratory and Critical Care Chronicles, 8(34), 40-46. https://doi.org/10.12746/swrccc.v8i34.663