Evaluation of a novel intervention to reduce burnout in doctors-in-training using self-care and digital wellbeing strategies: A mixed-methods pilot

Antonia Rich, Amira Aly, Marta E. Cecchinato, Laura Lascau, Magdalen Baker, Rowena Viney, Anna L. Cox*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
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Abstract

Background: Burnout for doctors-in-training is increasingly cause for concern. Our objectives were to assess the feasibility, acceptability and impact of a novel intervention to reduce burnout and improve wellbeing. This is the first wellbeing intervention for medical doctors to include strategies for work-life boundary management and digital wellbeing. 

Methods: Twenty-two doctors participated in face-to-face workshops which included group discussion of challenges experienced and strategies to enhance self-care and wellbeing. A pre-post-test mixed-methods evaluation was undertaken. Questionnaire measures were the Oldenburg Burnout Inventory, Warwick-Edinburgh Mental Wellbeing Scale and the boundary control subscale of the Work-Life Indicator (i.e., the degree of perception of control of the boundaries between work and personal life). Paired t-tests examined whether there were statistically significant differences. Eleven doctors also participated in post-intervention semi-structured interviews. Transcripts were analysed using thematic analysis. 

Results: The intervention was well-received, with all trainees finding the workshop useful and saying they would recommend it to others. At baseline most participants had scores indicative of burnout on both the disengagement (82%) and exhaustion (82%) subscales of the Oldenburg Burnout Inventory. One month post-intervention, participants had a statistically significant reduction in burnout (both disengagement and exhaustion) and improvement in boundary control. Wellbeing scores also improved, but differences were not statistically significant. Qualitative analysis indicated participants had welcomed a safe space to discuss stressors and many had implemented digital wellbeing strategies to manage their smartphone technology, and increased self-care such as mindfulness practice and walking in green space. 

Conclusions: The intervention reduced burnout and improved boundary control. We suggest that having protected time for doctors to share personal experiences, adopt digital wellbeing and self-care strategies are effective tools to support doctors’ wellbeing and should be investigated further.

Original languageEnglish
Article number294
Number of pages11
JournalBMC Medical Education
Volume20
Issue number1
Early online date9 Sep 2020
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2020

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