ACAAI Assesses Burnout Trends in Allergist-Immunologists

Physician burnout
Physician burnout
Occupations that involve high vs low asthma trigger exposures were found to more than double an individual’s risk of developing asthma.

Because of high levels of physician burnout across the United States and a low level of information on burnout in allergist-immunologists, the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (ACAAI) administered the Maslach Burnout Inventory Human Services Survey (MBI-HSS) to analyze 3 traits in allergist-immunologists, according to a report from the ACAAI Physician Wellness Taskforce published in the Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology.

The main objective of this survey was to assess the risk for burnout in ACAAI physicians. During the “Finding Balance,” a webinar focusing on issues of wellness and burnout, presented by Gailen D. Marshall, MD, PhD, the MBI-HSS was administered to ACAAI member volunteers. MBI-HSS was offered for completion to US-based practicing North American allergist-immunologists from September 1 through November 13, 2017. A second round was offered to ACAAI fellows-in-training (FIT) members from January 23 to April 3, 2018.

The MBI-HSS is a 22-question survey that analyzes 3 responses to physicians experiencing burnout: levels of emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, and personal accomplishment. The survey results were compared with a general health services (GHS) population of >11,000 people. A total of 358 allergist-immunologists members (14.3% of 67 those invited) and 61 FIT members (16.9% of those invited) completed the survey.

Allergist-immunologist members had a mean frequency score of 2.6 for emotional exhaustion, which was slightly higher than the GHS population (2.3). Allergist-immunologists also had 1.3 for depersonalization while the GHS population surveyed a 1.7. Lastly, allergist-immunologists scored a 5 for personal accomplishment while the GHS population scored 4.3. FIT members scored a 2.7 for emotional exhaustion, 1.8 for depersonalization, and 4.4 for personal accomplishment.

The data suggest that as an overall group, both allergist-immunologists and FITs experience slightly higher levels of emotional exhaustion compared with the GHS population. The allergist-immunologists had lower depersonalization scores than both the FITs and GHS population. Both allergist-immunologists and FITs had higher sense of personal accomplishment compared with the GHS population. These scores indicate a possible burnout risk for both groups. The data were not significantly different by gender, age, or years in practice; however, the authors noted that further research is necessary to assess subgroup indicators.

There are several limitations to these results, including a small sample size, which may not be an accurate representation of the burnout risk for the entire community, and the survey was only completed by a North American population.


Marshall GD Jr, Blaiss M, Dixit A, et al. Risk for physician burnout in the American allergist-immunologist workforce [published online June 13, 2020]. Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol. doi:10.1016/j.anai.2020.06.010.1016