BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES: Burnout is prevalent among clinicians and entails negative personal, professional, and organizational consequences. Assessments of burnout are typically anonymous to facilitate psychological safety. This limits the capacity of leadership to help struggling providers and reduces the level of demographic detail. Nonanonymous, confidential assessments may facilitate outreach to individuals or targeted interventions for at-risk populations. METHODS: We administered the Maslach Burnout Inventory to physician faculty and advanced practice providers in an academic department of family medicine. We identified a wellness officer within the department who served as an honest broker to keep nonanonymous survey responses confidential. Respondents had the option of taking the survey anonymously or confidentially. Anonymous respondents were allowed to withhold demographic information to ensure anonymity. RESULTS: Sixty-seven of 109 providers responded (61% response rate), with 46 (69%) doing so confidentially. Burnout rates were similar between groups: 48% among confidential respondents, and 43% among anonymous respondents (P=.71). Subscales of the MBI also showed no significant differences. Because a large proportion of anonymous respondents withheld demographic data, no demographic trends could be identified among them. Younger confidential respondents were more likely to exhibit depersonalization (P=.01). CONCLUSIONS: Most participants chose to respond confidentially. There was no significant difference in the level of burnout between confidential and anonymous respondents. Our findings refute the conventional wisdom that clinicians require anonymity to respond to burnout surveys. This finding has the potential to open a new line of inquiry regarding burnout, its drivers and potential solutions.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Family Practice