Bethesda, MD—About a fourth of respondents to a recent opinion poll said they were concerned that the pharmacists who take care of them, whether in a community drugstore or a hospital, are suffering from burnout.

That’s according to data released by the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists. The survey was launched after a study published last year in the American Journal of Health-System Pharmacy (AJHP) found that 53% of pharmacists self-reported a high degree of burnout caused by increasing stresses and demands.

“Pharmacists, as patient care providers and members of the healthcare team, strive to provide the best quality of care to their patients. But with chronic job stressors many clinicians are experiencing symptoms of burnout,” noted ASHP CEO Paul W. Abramowitz, PharmD. “We believe that fostering and sustaining the well-being and resiliency of the pharmacy workforce is in the best interest of patients and the healthcare system as a whole. ASHP has had a longstanding commitment to working with our members and their patients and colleagues to raise awareness and advance solutions to help prevent burnout in healthcare.”

The online survey was conducted in May by The Harris Poll on behalf of ASHP. Respondents included more than 2,000 U.S. adults and, according to researchers, suggested patients were aware that pharmacists, physicians, nurses, and other professionals struggle with burnout, which can lead to impaired attention and decreased functioning. The result often is medical errors and reduced safety.

In fact, 26% of survey participants said hospital pharmacists and 25% of retail pharmacists experience clinical burnout, which is defined as clinicians feeling emotionally exhausted, unsatisfied and detached from their work, and having a low sense of personal accomplishment. The previous study posits that the increased stress was caused by greater workloads, periodic drug shortages, and heavy demands from electronic health records, insurance, and regulatory requirements.

Awareness of burnout affects how patients interact with pharmacists, the survey points out. Nearly half of the respondents, 47%, said they would avoid asking questions if they thought their healthcare professional appeared to be suffering burn out because they did not want to add to the stress. And if pharmacists think they are hiding it well when they feel overwhelmed, 60% of poll responders said they can tell when healthcare providers are tired and 56% said they knew when the providers are rushed.

“A healthy and thriving clinician workforce is essential to ensure optimal patient health outcomes and safety,” Abramowitz said. “Within the healthcare industry, we are working to help build a culture of resilience and well-being to ensure that no patient or clinician is harmed due to burnout; but it takes a concerted effort from all entities involved—providers and healthcare organizations.”

At the same time, the survey respondents were sympathetic and adamant that healthcare professionals take care of themselves, with 91% saying that it is important that their physician, pharmacist, nurse, or other healthcare professional do whatever they can to avoid burnout.

Self-interest was also an issue, however, with 77% responding that when they see their clinician is feeling burnt out, they become concerned about their own care and safety.

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