News: Addressing SDOH combats clinician burnout

CDI Strategies - Volume 13, Issue 53

According to new data published in the Annals of Family Medicine, creating a system by which primary care clinicians can address social determinants of health (SDOH) may help combat clinician burnout.

“Recent studies have demonstrated direct or potential links between clinician burnout and the ability to address patients’ social needs,” the researchers wrote. Physician dissatisfaction with a lack of resources and care coordination for patients with complex clinical conditions may, over time, be contributing to symptoms of burnout, according to recent data. Alternatively, a readiness to address social needs and ease of coordinating social services was linked with greater provider satisfaction.

A new report from the National Academy of Medicine says that between one-third and one-half of United States clinicians experience burnout. While the National Academy of Medicine published six strategies for helping to reduce clinician burnout, the Annals of Family Medicine study found that helping providers address SDOH may be an additional strategy.

While some clinicians responded expressing their ability to use resources to address SDOH and others had no confidence in this ability, all respondents agreed that unaddressed social needs took away from the clinical care encounter.

“In the absence of social needs resources, clinicians described a negative cycle whereby inefficacy exacerbated emotional exhaustion and vice versa,” the researchers wrote. “Having to reconcile the responsibility they felt to their patients with their limited capacity to facilitate access to social services was emotionally taxing. In turn, being emotionally exhausted made clinicians feel less capable of addressing social needs.”

Essentially, respondents said seeing their patients’ social needs alleviated helped address their own emotional wellbeing and morale.

Most provider respondents agreed embedding these resources into the primary care clinic would be a step forward in managing clinician burnout, but they noted that more was needed to truly address emotional exhaustion.

Editor’s note: For the National Academy of Medicine’s strategies for reducing burnout, click here. To read the study from the Annals of Family Medicine, click here.

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