Primary Care Tasks Associated with Provider Burnout

Findings from a Veterans Health Administration Survey

Published in: Journal of General Internal Medicine Epub September 2017]. doi: 10.1007/s11606-017-4188-6

by Linda Y. Kim, Danielle E. Rose, Lynn Soban, Susan Stockdale, Lisa S. Meredith, Samuel T. Edwards, Christian D. Helfrich, Lisa V. Rubenstein

Read More

Access further information on this document at Springer US

This article was published outside of RAND. The full text of the article can be found at the link above.


The patient-centered medical home (PCMH) is a primary care delivery model predicated on shared responsibility for patient care among members of an interprofessional team. Effective task sharing may reduce burnout among primary care providers (PCPs). However, little is known about the extent to which PCPs share these responsibilities, and which, if any, of the primary care tasks performed independently by the PCPs (vs. shared with the team) are particularly associated with PCP burnout. A better understanding of the relationship between these tasks and their effects on PCP burnout may help guide focused efforts aimed at reducing burnout.


To investigate (1) the extent to which PCPs share responsibility for 14 discrete primary care tasks with other team members, and (2) which, if any, of the primary care tasks performed by the PCPs (without reliance on team members) are associated with PCP burnout.


Secondary data analysis of Veterans Health Administration (VHA) survey data from two time periods.


327 providers from 23 VA primary care practices within one VHA regional network.

Main Measures

The dependent variable was PCP report of burnout. Independent variables included PCP report of the extent to which they performed 14 discrete primary care tasks without reliance on team members; team functioning; and PCP-, clinic-, and system-level variables.

Key Results

In adjusted models, PCP reports of intervening on patient lifestyle factors and educating patients about disease-specific self-care activities, without reliance on their teams, were significantly associated with burnout (intervening on lifestyle: b = 4.11, 95% CI = 0.39, 7.83, p = 0.03; educating patients: b = 3.83, 95% CI = 0.33, 7.32, p = 0.03).


Performing behavioral counseling and self-management education tasks without relying on other team members for assistance was associated with PCP burnout. Expanding the roles of nurses and other healthcare professionals to assume responsibility for these tasks may ease PCP burden and reduce burnout.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation External publication series. Many RAND studies are published in peer-reviewed scholarly journals, as chapters in commercial books, or as documents published by other organizations.

Our mission to help improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis is enabled through our core values of quality and objectivity and our unwavering commitment to the highest level of integrity and ethical behavior. To help ensure our research and analysis are rigorous, objective, and nonpartisan, we subject our research publications to a robust and exacting quality-assurance process; avoid both the appearance and reality of financial and other conflicts of interest through staff training, project screening, and a policy of mandatory disclosure; and pursue transparency in our research engagements through our commitment to the open publication of our research findings and recommendations, disclosure of the source of funding of published research, and policies to ensure intellectual independence. For more information, visit

The RAND Corporation is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.