The healthy (and unhealthy) ways radiologists cope with burnout

More than half of radiologists who experience burnout cope with those feelings through exercise, according to a new report from Medscape. Radiologists also handle such feelings by speaking with friends and family, sleeping, playing/listening to music and isolating themselves from others.

“Radiologists rely on a mix of positive coping skills and potentially destructive behaviors to deal with burnout,” according to the report.

In January, Medscape shared two reports—the Medscape Physician Lifestyle & Happiness Report and the Medscape National Physician Burnout, Depression & Suicide Report—that addressed the wellbeing of physicians from 29 different specialties. This latest document, the Medscape Radiologist Lifestyle, Happiness & Burnout Report, is focused exclusively on radiologists.

While some of the findings had been covered in the previous reports—53 percent of radiologists are happy outside of work, 45 percent are burned out—this newest report included new information on how physicians within the specialty are handling those feelings.

When radiologists who experience burnout were asked how they cope with that feeling, exercise was the most common response (54 percent of respondents). Other responses included talking with family and friends (41 percent), sleeping (36 percent), playing/listening to music (35 percent), isolating themselves from others (32 percent), eating junk food (24 percent) and drinking alcohol (23 percent).

The report also asked radiologists who experience burnout what causes them to feel that way. The No. 1 cause of burnout for radiologists is that they spend too many hours on the job (48 percent of respondents). The lack of respect from employers, colleagues and others was the No. 2 cause, reported by 44 percent of respondents.

Other key findings include:

  • 32 percent of respondents who experience depression say that it causes them to “make errors that I might not ordinarily make.”
  • 10 percent of respondents said they have had thoughts of suicide, though they did not attempt suicide.
  • 45 percent of respondents describe their self-esteem as being “high,” and just 8 percent said their self-esteem was “low” or “very low.”
  • 38 percent of respondents exercise 2-3 times a week, making it the most common answer among radiologists. Eleven percent answered that they exercise every day.