Allergists Report Sharp Decline in Work-Life Balance

Prior to the pandemic, nearly three fourths (72%) of allergists and immunologists said they were happy with their work-life balance, but that percentage has dropped to 43% this year, according to the Medscape Allergist Lifestyle, Happiness, and Burnout Report 2022.

Forty-two percent of allergists reported being burned-out, with the main contributor of burnout being too many bureaucratic tasks (65%). Aside from allergists, the specialists who most frequently reported burnout were emergency medicine practitioners (60%) and critical care practitioners (59%). Dermatologists (33%), public health workers, and preventive medicine practitioners (26%) were least likely to report burnout.

This new report was compiled from an online survey that included more than 13,000 physicians from 29 specialties, of which 1% of respondents were allergists and immunologists. Most respondents (61%) were male; 38% were female. The most common age of respondents was 55–64 (31%), followed by 45–54 (25%) and those 65 years or older (20%). The survey was available from June 29, 2021, to September 26, 2021.

Other common reasons for burnout among allergists included increased use of electronic health records, insufficient pay, and lack of respect from colleagues (all 35%). Stress related to treatment of COVID-19 patients as well as social distancing and other societal issues related to the pandemic ranked lowest among respondents as contributors to work-related exhaustion.

More than half of respondents (54%) said they were more burned-out now than during the first few months of the pandemic, and 60% said this work-related exhaustion has had a negative effect on their personal relationships. This was slightly less than physicians across all specialties (68%).

Reducing work hours (29%) and participating in meditation or other stress reduction techniques (21%) were the most popular strategies to combat burnout at work. Respondents also said they had hired additional staff and had made workflow or staff changes to ease their workload (both 14%). Close to half of allergists (49%) said they would be willing take a cut in pay for a better work-life balance, which is a somewhat smaller proportion than all physicians surveyed (55%).

Allergy and Immunology tied with otolaryngology (both 91%) as the specialties that most frequently reported marital happiness. Dermatology, rheumatology, and nephology followed closely behind, with 90% of respondents from each specialty reporting being happy in their marriages. More than half of allergists (55%) said their marriage was “very good,” 35% described their marriage as “good,” while just 5%, 3%, and 2% described their marriage as “fair,” “poor,” or “very poor,” respectively.

Exercise was the most popular activity (71%) to help promote happiness and mental health among respondents. Many allergists also reported that participating in non–work-related hobbies (66%), spending time with family and friends (60%), eating healthy (49%), and getting enough sleep (48%) helped them maintaining their well-being.

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