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.