Prevalence and Predictors of Burnout Among Hospice and Palliative Care Clinicians in the U.S.

Arif H. Kamal, Janet H. Bull, Steven P. Wolf, Keith M. Swetz, Tait D. Shanafelt, Katherine Ast, Dio Kavalieratos, Christian T. Sinclair, Amy P. Abernethy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

104 Scopus citations


Context Many clinical disciplines report high rates of burnout, which lead to low quality of care. Palliative care clinicians routinely manage patients with significant suffering, aiming to improve quality of life. As a major role of palliative care clinicians involves educating patients and caregivers regarding identifying priorities and balancing stress, we wondered how clinician self-management of burnout matches against the emotionally exhaustive nature of the work. Objectives We sought to understand the prevalence and predictors of burnout using a discipline-wide survey. Methods We asked American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine clinician members to complete an electronic survey querying demographic factors, job responsibilities, and the Maslach Burnout Inventory. We performed univariate and multivariate regression analyses to identify predictors of high rates of burnout. Results We received 1357 responses (response rate 30%). Overall, we observed a burnout rate of 62%, with higher rates reported by nonphysician clinicians. Most burnout stemmed from emotional exhaustion, with depersonalization comprising a minor portion. Factors associated with higher rates of burnout include working in smaller organizations, working longer hours, being younger than 50 years, and working weekends. We did not observe different rates between palliative care clinicians and hospice clinicians. Higher rated self-management activities to mitigate burnout include participating in interpersonal relationships and taking vacations. Conclusions Burnout is a major issue facing the palliative care clinician workforce. Strategies at the discipline-wide and individual levels are needed to sustain the delivery of responsive, available, high-quality palliative care for all patients with serious illness.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)690-696
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of pain and symptom management
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2016


  • Burnout
  • palliative care
  • workforce

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nursing(all)
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine


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