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An Exploratory Study of Resident Burnout and Wellness

Eckleberry-Hunt, Jodie PhD; Lick, David MD; Boura, Judith MS; Hunt, Ronald MD; Balasubramaniam, Mamtha MS; Mulhem, Elie MD; Fisher, Cynthia MD

doi: 10.1097/ACM.0b013e3181938a45
Well-Being

Purpose Physicians have a higher rate of burnout compared with the general population, and burnout's origin can be traced to residency training. Little evidence exists documenting the causes of burnout, and there is even less evidence on protective factors. The goal of this exploratory study was to determine which resident-identified stressors are associated with the presence of burnout and which resident-identified wellness factors are associated with the absence of burnout.

Method In the fall of 2006, residents from 13 specialties completed a demographics questionnaire, a survey of factors that promote burnout and wellness, and the Maslach Burnout Inventory.

Results From a pool of 395 residents, 150 (38%) completed the questionnaires. Of 32 burnout factors, 27 were significantly associated with at least one burnout scale. Pessimism was the only burnout factor associated with all three burnout scales; 11 other burnout factors were associated with at least two burnout scales. Of 29 wellness factors, 25 were significantly associated with at least one burnout scale, indicating a lack of burnout. Use of prescription medications was the only wellness factor associated with all three burnout scales, indicating low burnout. Thirteen other wellness factors were associated with at least two of the scales.

Conclusions Significantly more research is needed to further define and measure wellness. Program directors should consider multiple burnout and wellness factors associated with burnout (or its absence) when designing treatment interventions. The aim should be to identify and bolster wellness factors that protect from burnout while minimizing the stressors that cause it.

Dr. Eckleberry-Hunt is associate director, Behavioral Medicine, William Beaumont Hospital Family Medicine Residency Program, Sterling Heights, Michigan.

Dr. Lick is associate director, William Beaumont Family Medicine Residency Program, Sterling Heights, Michigan.

Ms. Boura is biostatistician, William Beaumont Hospital Research Institute, Royal Oak, Michigan.

Dr. Hunt is associate director, McLaren Family Practice Residency Program, Flint, Michigan.

Ms. Balasubramaniam is biostatistician, William Beaumont Hospital Research Institute, Royal Oak, Michigan.

Dr. Mulhem is director, Women's Health, William Beaumont Hospital Family Medicine Residency Program, Sterling Heights, Michigan.

Dr. Fisher is director, William Beaumont Family Medicine Residency Program, Sterling Heights, Michigan.

Correspondence should be addressed to Dr. Eckleberry-Hunt, Beaumont Family Medicine Center, 44300 Dequindre Road, Sterling Heights, MI 48314; e-mail: (jeckleberryhunt@earthlink.net).

© 2009 Association of American Medical Colleges