Emergency medicine has one of the highest rates of burnout of all medical specialties. Recent research has identified putative sources of burnout in emergency medicine, including stress of overnight shifts, psychological demands of handling emergency patients, and perceived poor departmental support systems. This burnout is detrimental to the quality of patient care, and thus represents an important target to simultaneously improve both physician wellness and patient outcomes. We lack consensus on the best way to combat the impacts of physician burnout in part, because we do not know the protective factors that best enable individuals to manage their burnout and be resilient to its impacts on their patient care. The goal of this study was to identify the resilience factors that have the greatest influence on the relationship between physician burnout symptoms and perceptions of workload impact on patient outcomes. We conducted a cross-sectional web-based anonymous survey of full-time attending emergency medicine physicians and measured self-reported responses about perceived impacts of workload on patient care and symptoms of burnout. Additionally, we measured resilience factor-related items (such as shift length/type, spirituality, home life, etc.), stratified the responses by level of agreement with the statements, and assessed how each impacted the relationship between burnout domains and perceived workload/patient outcomes. The level of agreement with five resilience factor statements influenced the magnitude of correlation between workload’s effects on patient outcomes and burnout. These factors included personal spirituality, utility of mindfulness techniques, sleep quality, perceptions of home life, and the presence of institutional debriefing procedures. This work identified five resilience factors that may enable emergency medicine physicians to mitigate the impact of their burnout on their work and patient care. Promoting these resilience factors represent targets for institutional-level interventions to improve both physician wellness and patient outcomes.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Clinical Psychology
- Applied Psychology
- Psychiatry and Mental health
- Emergency Medicine