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Physician Burnout and Higher Clinic Capacity to Address Patients' Social Needs.



A recent regional study found lower burnout among primary care clinicians who perceived that their clinic had greater capacity to meet patients' social needs. We aimed to more comprehensively investigate the association between clinic capacity to address social needs and burnout by using national data that included a more representative sample of family physicians and a more comprehensive set of practice-level variables that are potential confounders of an association between clinic social needs capacity and burnout.


We conducted a cross-sectional analysis of 1298 family physicians in ambulatory primary care settings who applied to continue certification with the American Board of Family Medicine in 2016. Logistic regression was used to test associations between physician and clinic characteristics, perceived clinic social needs capacity, and burnout.


A total of 27% of family physicians reported burnout. Physicians with a high perception of their clinic's ability to meet patients' social needs were less likely to report burnout (adjusted odds ratio [OR], 0.66; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.47-0.91). Physicians who reported high clinic capacity to address patients' social needs were more likely to report having a social worker (adjusted OR, 2.16; 95% CI, 1.44-3.26) or pharmacist (adjusted OR, 1.73; 95% CI, 1.18-2.53) on their care team and working in a patient-centered medical home (adjusted OR, 1.65; 95% CI, 1.24-2.21).


Efforts to reduce primary care physician burnout may be furthered by addressing structural issues, such as improving capacity to respond to patients' social needs in addition to targeting other modifiable burnout risks.

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