“It Is Like Heart Failure. It Is Chronic … and It Will Kill You”: A Qualitative Analysis of Burnout Among Hospice and Palliative Care Clinicians

Academic Article

Abstract

  • © 2017 American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine Context Although prior surveys have identified rates of self-reported burnout among palliative care clinicians as high as 62%, limited data exist to elucidate the causes, ameliorators, and effects of this phenomenon. Objectives We explored burnout among palliative care clinicians, specifically their experiences with burnout, their perceived sources of burnout, and potential individual, interpersonal, organizational, and policy-level solutions to address burnout. Methods During the 2014 American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine/Hospice and Palliative Nurses Association Annual Assembly, we conducted three focus groups to examine personal narratives of burnout, how burnout differs within hospice and palliative care, and strategies to mitigate burnout. Two investigators independently analyzed data using template analysis, an inductive/deductive qualitative analytic technique. Results We interviewed 20 palliative care clinicians (14 physicians, four advanced practice providers, and two social workers). Common sources of burnout included increasing workload, tensions between nonspecialists and palliative care specialists, and regulatory issues. We heard grave concerns about the stability of the palliative care workforce and concerns about providing high-quality palliative care in light of a distressed and overburdened discipline. Participants proposed antiburnout solutions, including promoting the provision of generalist palliative care, frequent rotations on-and-off service, and organizational support for self-care. We observed variability in sources of burnout between clinician type and by practice setting, such as role monotony among full-time clinicians. Conclusion Our results reinforce and expand on the severity and potential ramifications of burnout on the palliative care workforce. Future research is needed to confirm our findings and investigate interventions to address or prevent burnout.
  • Authors

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Kavalieratos D; Siconolfi DE; Steinhauser KE; Bull J; Arnold RM; Swetz KM; Kamal AH
  • Start Page

  • 901
  • End Page

  • 910.e1
  • Volume

  • 53
  • Issue

  • 5