Physician burnout and staffing shortages are top concerns among doctors worldwide

US doctors more than twice as likely to feel burned out compared to their European counterparts

A report on physician sentiments shows that burnout and concerns about staffing shortages are a worldwide issue. Nearly twice as many US physicians (45%) say they have experienced burnout in the last two years compared to their European counterparts (25%).

The data comes from the 2022 Apollo Healthcare Predictions Report,.

Staffing shortages are another area of concern, with 62% of American doctors and 49% in Europe indicating it is an issue for them. The stress of burnout and a lack of support staff has led to one in three US doctors considering leaving the profession in the past year, and this year’s number (34%) is nearly double what it was in 2018.

“2022 finds physicians deflated from the prolonged pandemic and frustrated by their waning influence in public health,” said Daniel S. Fitzgerald, CEO and president of Apollo, in a statement. “Burnout levels and staffing concerns overshadow other, more optimistic findings this year. Our annual report provides a window into physicians' sentiments and views on the year ahead, and this year's report highlights the strain the pandemic is continuing to put on them.”

COVID is no longer a pandemic but instead is endemic to communities worldwide, according to 76% of all physicians surveyed. More than half of US respondents, and a third in Europe, have concerns over the long-term impact of COVID on patients. Over a quarter worldwide feel the pandemic has slowed progress for new therapies in their area of specialty. More than three quarters of doctors worldwide (82% in US, 79% in Europe) predict negative economic impact from COVID-19 in 2022, with more people becoming ill from the more contagious variants, and more unable to work. 

Significantly more US physicians believe that the year will see more patient resistance to vaccines and COVID-related treatments as misinformation escalates. The most optimistic nations were France and Spain, with 33% and 31% respectively believing we would get back to a pre-pandemic world.

The perennial change that US physicians would most like to see in the pharmaceutical industry is lower prices for patients. Though still the top aspiration, at 60%, the level was down from 67% in 2021, and from 86% in 2020, as US doctors in 2022 wished for a variety of other items including generics (10%), improved access to programs and less bureaucracy and government regulation (both at 8%).

Telemedicine was both doctors’ most wished-for change, and their prediction of what realistically would happen in 2022 in the health care industry. Among priorities, US and European doctors ranked telemedicine their highest priority, at 22% and 23% respectively. For what respondents thought would happen in 2022, 19% of US and 25% of Europeans physicians believed telemedicine would advance in the next year.