Examining Pessimism Among Physicians: 2017 Survey on Physicians’ Outlook on the Practice of Medicine

Physician satisfaction is an important component in the effort to improve health care access and quality and reduce costs. In a nationwide survey of 621 physicians, we found that 38 percent of physicians reported having a pessimistic outlook on the practice of medicine today. In this study, we identified physician characteristics that are correlated with pessimism and discuss four important findings. First, pessimism is not limited to a specific group or type of physician, but rather is widespread and found among all types of physicians. Second, a lack of confidence in administrative and financial management of the practice showed the strongest association with physician pessimism. Third, dissatisfaction with electronic medical records systems was also associated with higher rates of physician pessimism. Lastly, pessimistic physicians are adopting care delivery changes and some value-based payment programs at a slower rate than non-pessimistic physicians. Based on these findings, we identify several ways to address pessimism among physicians.