“Where You Feel Like a Family Instead of Co-workers”: a Mixed Methods Study on Care Teams and Burnout

Monica A. Lu, Jacqueline O’Toole, Matthew Shneyderman, Suzanne Brockman, Carolyn Cumpsty-Fowler, Deborah Dang, Carrie Herzke, Cynthia S. Rand, Heather F. Sateia, Erin Van Dyke, Michelle N. Eakin, E. Lee Daugherty Biddison

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Physicians and nurses face high levels of burnout. The role of care teams may be protective against burnout and provide a potential target for future interventions. Objective: To explore levels of burnout among physicians and nurses and differences in burnout between physicians and nurses, to understand physician and nurse perspectives of their healthcare teams, and to explore the association of the role of care teams and burnout. Design: A mixed methods study in two school of medicine affiliated teaching hospitals in an urban medical center in Baltimore, Maryland. Participants: Participants included 724 physicians and 971 nurses providing direct clinical care to patients. Main Measures and Approach: Measures included survey participant characteristics, a single-item burnout measure, and survey questions on care teams and provision of clinical care. Thematic analysis was used to analyze qualitative survey responses from physicians and nurses. Key Results: Forty-three percent of physicians and nurses screened positive for burnout. Physicians reported more isolation at work than nurses (p<0.001), and nurses reported their care teams worked efficiently together more than physicians did (p<0.001). Team efficiency was associated with decreased likelihood of burnout (p<0.01), and isolation at work was associated with increased likelihood of burnout (p<0.001). Free-text responses revealed themes related to care teams, including emphasis on team functioning, team membership, and care coordination and follow-up. Respondents provided recommendations about optimizing care teams including creating consistent care teams, expanding interdisciplinary team members, and increasing clinical support staffing. Conclusions: More team efficiency and less isolation at work were associated with decreased likelihood of burnout. Free-text responses emphasized viewpoints on care teams, suggesting that better understanding care teams may provide insight into physician and nurse burnout.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)341-350
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of general internal medicine
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2023


  • care teams
  • nurse burnout
  • physician burnout

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Internal Medicine


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