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60% of Spanish doctors suffer from burnout: Study

Trouble sleeping, poor health skyrocketed as result of pandemic, new study finds

Alyssa McMurtry   | 21.04.2021
60% of Spanish doctors suffer from burnout: Study

OVIEDO, Spain 

The toll the COVID-19 pandemic has taken on Spain’s doctors has been alarming, with the percentage of physicians suffering from burnout doubling to 60%, according to a new study.

Before the pandemic, 30% of doctors had reported symptoms of overwhelming professional exhaustion.

The survey was carried out by the Galatea Foundation, which gathered answers from more than 4,500 doctors between July and December 2020.

The soaring stress levels and extended hours on the job had negative repercussions in the lives of many doctors.

On average, the survey found, a third of medical professionals reported they had trouble sleeping and 27% said they sleep fewer than six hours each night.

Prior to the pandemic, just 9% of doctors said they had trouble sleeping. The levels of insomnia have improved from the spring of 2020, when 45% of respondents said they struggled to get decent shut-eye.

Even so, nearly 30% reported using sleeping pills in the latest round of the survey, compared to 18% pre-pandemic.

The levels of unhealthy drinking in doctors also increased sharply, from 4% pre-COVID to 7%. At the same time, the number of doctors who said they regularly exercised plummeted from 50% to 28%. In these two categories, female doctors were particularly affected.

In total, 23% of the doctors self-reported as being in poor physical health, up more than threefold from before the pandemic.

A further 8% said they lost a coworker to COVID-19, a quarter had to go into quarantine or confinement due to the virus and 39% said they were faced with ethical dilemmas at work.

The pandemic has even driven around 4% of doctors to say they have decided to quit their jobs while 30% said they fantasized about it.

Dr. Tomas Codo, the head of the Spanish Medical Colleges Organization (OMC), said the survey data highlighted the “tremendous effort put in by doctors and the need to take care of those who take care of us.”

The survey was organized the OMC, Mutual Medica, and the Galatea Foundation.

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