2019 AAFP/CompHealth Physician Happiness Survey

Physician Happiness Linked to Personal Relationships

A 2019 AAFP/CompHealth Physician Happiness Survey of 5,000 AAFP members and physicians from several other specialties has delved into what makes physicians happy. The survey results indicate that, despite the very real issues that are the root cause of physician burnout, there is still an abundance of positives around the practice of medicine, and physicians are generally happy in both their lives and their careers.

Physicians are happy.

According to survey results, 71% of participants reported being happy, with older physicians who have been in practice for more than 30 years showing the most life satisfaction.

Additionally, 61% indicated that, if they had to do it over again, they would still choose to become physicians.

Relationships at work matter.

Physicians who reported having many friends at work indicated a higher level of life satisfaction (70%). However, of those who said they didn't have any friends at work, only 39% reported high life satisfaction.

Additionally, those who had many friends felt their colleagues were supportive (69%), while only 29% of those who didn't have friends at work felt supported.

What causes unhappiness?

Although participants indicate they're generally happy, several aspects of their jobs make them unhappy. Unsurprisingly, top on the list are lack of control (72%), administrative burdens (71%), and  emotional exhaustion (69%).

Lack of time with patients may contribute to unhappiness.

Lack of time with patients may also be a contributing factor in physician unhappiness. Fifty-five percent of participants indicated that time available for individual patients has declined. However, 44% reported that quality of care has improved since they first started practicing.