Appl Clin Inform 2021; 12(03): 597-620
DOI: 10.1055/s-0041-1731399
Review Article

A Scoping Review of Health Information Technology in Clinician Burnout

Danny T. Y. Wu
1   Department of Biomedical Informatics, University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, Ohio, United States
2   Department of Pediatrics, University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, Cincinnati, Ohio, United States
3   Division of Cardiology, The Heart Institute, Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, Cincinnati, Ohio, United States
Catherine Xu
1   Department of Biomedical Informatics, University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, Ohio, United States
4   Medical Science Baccalaureate Program, University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, Ohio, United States
Abraham Kim
1   Department of Biomedical Informatics, University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, Ohio, United States
4   Medical Science Baccalaureate Program, University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, Ohio, United States
Shwetha Bindhu
1   Department of Biomedical Informatics, University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, Ohio, United States
4   Medical Science Baccalaureate Program, University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, Ohio, United States
Kenneth E. Mah
3   Division of Cardiology, The Heart Institute, Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, Cincinnati, Ohio, United States
2   Department of Pediatrics, University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, Cincinnati, Ohio, United States
Mark H. Eckman
5   Division of General Internal Medicine, University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, Ohio, United States
› Author Affiliations


Background Clinician burnout is a prevalent issue in healthcare, with detrimental implications in healthcare quality and medical costs due to errors. The inefficient use of health information technologies (HIT) is attributed to having a role in burnout.

Objective This paper seeks to review the literature with the following two goals: (1) characterize and extract HIT trends in burnout studies over time, and (2) examine the evidence and synthesize themes of HIT's roles in burnout studies.

Methods A scoping literature review was performed by following the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) guidelines with two rounds of searches in PubMed, IEEE Xplore, ACM, and Google Scholar. The retrieved papers and their references were screened for eligibility by using developed inclusion and exclusion criteria. Data were extracted from included papers and summarized either statistically or qualitatively to demonstrate patterns.

Results After narrowing down the initial 945 papers, 36 papers were included. All papers were published between 2013 and 2020; nearly half of them focused on primary care (n = 16; 44.4%). The most commonly studied variable was electronic health record (EHR) practices (e.g., number of clicks). The most common study population was physicians. HIT played multiple roles in burnout studies: it can contribute to burnout; it can be used to measure burnout; or it can intervene and mitigate burnout levels.

Conclusion This scoping review presents trends in HIT-centered burnout studies and synthesizes three roles for HIT in contributing to, measuring, and mitigating burnout. Four recommendations were generated accordingly for future burnout studies: (1) validate and standardize HIT burnout measures; (2) focus on EHR-based solutions to mitigate clinician burnout; (3) expand burnout studies to other specialties and types of healthcare providers, and (4) utilize mobile and tracking technology to study time efficiency.

Protection of Human and Animal Subjects

No human or animal subjects were involved in this project.

Authors' Contributions

D.T.Y.W. led this scoping review and coordinated the effort in the research team. D.T.Y.W. designed the study and mentored C.X. to execute the scoping review and write the first draft of the manuscript. A.K. and S.B. helped the paper screening, information extraction and narrative synthesis, and manuscript writing. M.H.E. and K.E.M. reviewed the final draft and contributed significantly to the discussion. All authors reviewed and approved this manuscript before submission.

Publication History

Received: 28 January 2021

Accepted: 24 May 2021

Article published online:
07 July 2021

© 2021. Thieme. All rights reserved.

Georg Thieme Verlag KG
Rüdigerstraße 14, 70469 Stuttgart, Germany

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