Mistreatment and discrimination by patients, families, and visitors are commonly experienced by physicians, according to a study published in JAMA Network Open.
Liselotte N. Dyrbye, M.D., from the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, and colleagues conducted a cross-sectional study from November 20, 2020, to March 23, 2021, among U.S. physicians to examine the occurrence of mistreatment and discrimination by patients, families, and visitors and the association between such interactions and experiencing burnout. Data were included from 6,512 responding physicians.
The researchers found that physicians commonly experienced being subjected to racially or ethnically offensive remarks, offensive sexist remarks, or unwanted sexual advances by patients, families, or visitors at least once in the previous year (29.4, 28.7, and 20.5 percent, respectively).
Overall, 21.6 percent of physicians had experienced a patient or their family refusing to allow them to provide care due to the physician’s personal attributes at least once in the previous year. The likelihood of reporting mistreatment or discrimination in the previous year was increased for female physicians (odds ratio, 2.33) and ethnic- and racial-minority physicians (e.g., Black or African American: odds ratio, 1.59).
There was an independent association observed for experience of mistreatment or discrimination with higher odds of burnout (odds ratios for score of 1, 2, and 3 versus 0: 1.27, 1.70, and 2.20, respectively).
“Effective strategies are needed to reduce the frequency of inappropriate patient, family, and visitor behaviors as well as appropriately address them when they occur,” the authors write.
Several authors disclosed financial ties to the health care industry.