Research Agenda: Addressing Clinician Burnout in the Department of Veterans Affairs

AcademyHealth has just released their final report on research needed to address clinician burnout for the Department of Veterans Affairs: Research Agenda Outlines Next Steps in Addressing Clinician Burnout within the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) | AcademyHealth

Key recommendations:

  1. Prioritize research on interventions to address burnout at the organization or system levels. The biggest gap in the existing evidence base on clinician burnout is not its drivers or causes, but how to effectively address it across teams, divisions, and whole systems.
  2. Capitalize on the variation between VAMCs to study the comparative effectiveness and costs of interventions to address burnout, specifically which approaches work for whom and under which circumstances. Also, there is the opportunity to learn from “positive deviants,” identifying VAMCs with low rates of clinician burnout, and leveraging their approaches at an organizational level.
  3. Leverage the VA’s ability to conduct large, controlled studies across sites and/or clinician types, particularly for “whole system interventions” with varying components. Findings should be widely disseminated and implemented across VA sites and share their learnings with health systems nationally and globally.
  4. Focus on the effectiveness of burnout interventions on clinicians of color and other dimensions of diversity and identity that affect the clinician’s interactions with healthcare staff and patients. This is a salient gap in the evidence.
  5. Include studies on the role of effective VA leadership (from senior leaders to supervisors of frontline staff), including strategies for leadership training and support, trust in leadership, and approaches for leaders to create and sustain a welcoming and supportive culture were all aspects of the priority questions.

Thank you to MSV leader Dr. Russell Libby for his part in this important work!