Burnout and career satisfaction among attending neurosurgeons during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Document Type


Publication Date


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Clinical neurology and neurosurgery




OBJECTIVE: The novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) pandemic has posed significant changes to physician workflow and healthcare delivery. This national survey investigated the impact of the pandemic on burnout and career satisfaction among U.S. attending neurosurgeons.

METHODS: A 24-question survey was sent electronically to all American Association of Neurological Surgeons (AANS) attending members. The abbreviated Maslach Burnout Inventory (aMBI) was used to measure the following burnout and career satisfaction indices: emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, and personal accomplishment. Bivariate analyses were conducted and multivariate analyses were performed using logistic regression models.

RESULTS: 407 attending neurosurgeons were included in the present study, with an overall response rate of 17.7 %. The majority of respondents were male (88.7 %), White (84.3 %), and in practice for 15 years or more (64.6 %). The majority reported a decrease in work hours due to the pandemic (82.6 %), uncertainty about future earnings (80.3 %), and uncertainty regarding future healthcare reform (84.5 %). Burnout was identified in 83 (20.4 %) respondents, whereas career satisfaction was identified in 316 (77.6 %) respondents. Rate of burnout was decreased when compared to rates reported in the pre-COVID era. In multivariate analysis, burnout was associated with working in a hostile or difficult environment since the rise of COVID-19 (OR = 2.534, p = 0.008), not having children (OR = 3.294, p = 0.011), being in practice for 5-15 years (vs. < 5 years) (OR = 4.568, p = 0.014), spending increased time conducting non-neurosurgical medical care due to COVID-19 (OR = 2.362, p = 0.019), feeling uncertain about future earnings due to COVID-19 (OR = 4.031, p = 0.035), and choosing not to pursue or feeling uncertain about pursuing neurosurgery again if given the choice (OR = 7.492, p < 0.001). Career satisfaction was associated with cerebrovascular subspecialty training (OR = 2.614, p = 0.046) and a willingness to pursue neurosurgery again if given the choice (OR = 2.962, p < 0.001).

CONCLUSION: Factors related to the novel COVID-19 pandemic have contributed to changes in workflow among U.S. attending neurosurgeons. Despite these changes, we report decreased burnout and high career satisfaction among U.S. neurosurgeons. Understanding modifiable stressors among neurosurgeons during the pandemic may help to identify effective future interventions to mitigate burnout and improve career satisfaction.

Clinical Institute

Neurosciences (Brain & Spine)






Infectious Diseases