Two out of three pain specialists experience severe burnout, which sometimes interferes with patient care.
Australian social psychologist Claire Ashton-James reports that chronic patient pain is on the rise and prevalence among professionals of burnout, a long-term response to chronic emotional and interpersonal stressors. also increased, he said.
Burnout levels worsened during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Dr. Ashton-James cited a 2021 US study reflecting Australian trends for the pain medicine department of the Australian and New Zealand College of Anesthetists.
“Airway and breathing anesthesiologists had the highest levels of burnout at 63%, subspecialists lower,” she said in Sydney on Friday.
“During COVID, anesthesiologists were heavily dependent on patient care. They were on the front lines.”
The costs of burnout were cognitive impairment, diagnostic inaccuracy, anxiety, low patient expectations of treatment, lack of self-worth, substance abuse, and professional turnover.
A recent study has highlighted a lack of self-esteem among physicians.
“If you can’t improve their symptoms, what are you there for?” said Dr. Ashton James.
I had symptoms without realizing it.
“It’s a chronic, long-term exposure to emotional and interpersonal stress. Rather than acute episodes with known causes, it’s a slow burn to the point where resources to deal with it are exhausted.” I’m coming,” she said.
“As a result, they may become irritable, hostile towards others, or withdrawn.”
While some doctors turned to drugs and alcohol, leaving their patients in the hands of multidisciplinary team members, private patients usually chose to change doctors.
“When patients experienced a lack of empathy, they typically went elsewhere.”
Disgruntled patients may also rate doctors on social media, often damaging their reputations.
“Pain specialists are rare and vital to patient outcomes and recovery,” said Dr. Ashton James.
Burnout was a myth that was caused by heavy workloads and physical exhaustion.
“Burnout is emotional exhaustion,” she said.
“They[pain specialists]are exposed to trauma, complexity, uncertainty, and patient dissatisfaction. People living with chronic pain expect a lot.
“The pressure has also been increased by opioid-dependent patients demanding prescriptions.”
Lamenting a lack of research, Dr. Ashton-James said strategies to prevent burnout include peer and group support, but more is needed.
“We must raise awareness of the risk of burnout, find ways to fend it off, and help a small but mighty workforce of pain professionals thrive.”
In Australia, 560 pain medicine specialists, including anesthesiologists, are part of the faculty.
They are critical to patient outcomes and recovery, said dean Kieran Davis.
“The burden of pain in the community is significant,” said Dr. Davis.
“Chronic pain affects about 1 in 5 people, so it is important not only to work with patients to help manage their pain, but also to educate the community about pain and how to treat it.”