Mentoring systems, changes in organizational structures, frequent daily breaks, and increasing hospital staff are potential strategies to improve general practitioner (GP) well-being, according to findings published in Family Practice.

Investigators conducted a total of 5 focus groups in private meeting rooms with 25 clinical practice GPs. In the focus groups, discussions were held regarding factors in the workplace that appeared to have an impact on well-being. In addition, strategies to prevent physician burnout, techniques to strengthen well-being, and external changes made by outside organizations that could influence working conditions were discussed.

Obligatory daily coffee breaks, buddy systems, and organizational awareness of burnout risks were common and feasible strategies discussed in the focus groups. In particular, training physicians to become more aware of their personal stressors and appropriate strategies for managing these stressors were suggestive strategies for preventing burnout.

All primary care physicians agreed that system-level organization changes were necessary to improve well-being. The optimal solution appeared to be increasing resources that would facilitate the growth of GPs and administrative staff in the hospital or clinical practice setting. An additional suggestion for preventing burnout was having weekly check-ins with a “buddy system” or similar mentoring system with the aim of improving morale and a positive outlook among practice GPs.

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Since the study participants were practicing in the United Kingdom, the researchers note that specific practice challenges and proposed solutions for burnout might not be applicable to practices in other countries.

The investigators suggest that the failure to implement these measures “may result in the primary care workforce becoming even more burnt out, depressed, and a subsequent increase in sick leave and early retirement.”

Reference

Hall LH, Johnson J, Heyhoe J, et al. Strategies to improve general practitioner well-being: findings from a focus group study [published online December 22, 2017].  Fam Pract. doi:10.1093/fampra/cmx130