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A Longitudinal Survey on Canadian Emergency Physician Burnout.

STUDY OBJECTIVE: Since Canada eased pandemic restrictions, emergency departments have experienced record levels of patient attendance, wait times, bed blocking, and crowding. The aim of this study was to report Canadian emergency physician burnout rates compared with the same physicians in 2020 and to describe how emergency medicine work has affected emergency physician well-being.

METHODS: This longitudinal study on Canadian emergency physician wellness enrolled participants in April 2020. In September 2022, participants were invited to a follow-up survey consisting of the Maslach Burnout Inventory and an optional free-text explanation of their experience. The primary outcomes were emotional exhaustion and depersonalization levels, which were compared with the Maslach Burnout Inventory survey conducted at the end of 2020. A thematic analysis identified common stressors, challenges, emotions, and responses among participants.

RESULTS: The response rate to the 2022 survey was 381 (62%) of 615 between September 28 and October 28, 2022, representing all provinces or territories in Canada (except Yukon). The median participant age was 42 years. In total, 49% were men, and 93% were staff physicians with a median of 12 years of work experience. 59% of respondents reported high emotional exhaustion, and 64% reported high depersonalization. Burnout levels in 2022 were significantly higher compared with 2020. Prevalent themes included a broken health care system, a lack of societal support, and systemic workplace challenges leading to physician distress and loss of physicians from the emergency workforce.

CONCLUSION: We found very high burnout levels in emergency physician respondents that have increased since 2020.

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