Overwhelming evidence of oncologist exhaustion

June 6, 2022

Nearly 90% of oncologists said they experience emotional exhaustion at work, and more than two-thirds said they experience additional symptoms of burnout, such as cynicism, detachment and feeling unaccomplished or ineffective, according to new research released from Cardinal Health Specialty Solutions in the eleventh edition of Oncology Insights, a biannual research-based report series analyzing the views of oncologists nationwide.

This edition features perspectives from more than 170 U.S. oncologists on the impact of burnout on oncologists, as well as changing value-based care models and patient access barriers to specialty medication.

More than half (56%) of participating oncologists said they are experiencing higher levels of stress than prior to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. While 55% say they are able to manage stress effectively, 60% require 4 or more additional hours per week to complete their work responsibilities, with one-third reporting they require 7 or more additional hours weekly. Nearly one-third of respondents (30%) say they have considered retiring early as a result of increased workplace stress. These findings on the state of oncologists' mental health show that increased levels of stress and persistent pressures, compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic, could potentially lead to oncologists leaving the field.

"Our research shows a stark contrast between oncologists' reported ability to manage stress and the actual impact it is having on their well-being, which certainly warrants closer evaluation and monitoring," said Bruce Feinberg, DO, Vice President and Chief Medical Officer for Cardinal Health Specialty Solutions.

In addition to findings on workplace burnout, the report also examines oncologists' views on patient access barriers and their perspectives on what's next for value-based care after the Oncology Care Model (OCM) is phased out in June 2022. Key findings include:

  • Nearly 90% of respondents noted prior authorizations as a significant barrier when starting patients on new medications, with 80% saying this process has a negative impact on patient outcomes.
  • Nearly 75% of participating oncologists said they are unsure if they will join the yet-to-be-defined program that will replace the OCM.

The full report is available for download at cardinalhealth.com/oncologyinsights.

Cardinal Health understands the importance of mental health support and has invested nearly $2.6 million in suicide prevention and increased access to mental health services. Cardinal Health has also launched a global mental health initiative for its employees called Mind Matters.

Cardinal Health release