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Mindfulness, burnout, and effects on performance evaluations in internal medicine residents

Authors Braun SE, Auerbach SM, Rybarczyk B, Lee B, Call S

Received 27 April 2017

Accepted for publication 5 July 2017

Published 16 August 2017 Volume 2017:8 Pages 591—597


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Dr Md Anwarul Azim Majumder

Sarah E Braun,1 Stephen M Auerbach,1 Bruce Rybarczyk,1 Bennett Lee,2 Stephanie Call2

1Department of Psychology, School of Humanities and Sciences, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA, USA; 2Department of Internal Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA, USA

Purpose: Burnout has been documented at high levels in medical residents with negative effects on performance. Some dispositional qualities, like mindfulness, may protect against burnout. The purpose of the present study was to assess burnout prevalence among internal medicine residents at a single institution, examine the relationship between mindfulness and burnout, and provide preliminary findings on the relation between burnout and performance evaluations in internal medicine residents.
Methods: Residents (n = 38) completed validated measures of burnout at three time points separated by 2 months and a validated measure of dispositional mindfulness at baseline. Program director end-of-year performance evaluations were also obtained on 22 milestones used to evaluate internal medicine resident performance; notably, these milestones have not yet been validated for research purposes; therefore, the investigation here is exploratory.
Results: Overall, 71.1% (n = 27) of the residents met criteria for burnout during the study. Lower scores on the “acting with awareness” facet of dispositional mindfulness significantly predicted meeting burnout criteria χ2(5) = 11.88, p = 0.04. Lastly, meeting burnout criteria significantly predicted performance on three of the performance milestones, with positive effects on milestones from the “system-based practices” and “professionalism” domains and negative effects on a milestone from the “patient care” domain.
Conclusion: Burnout rates were high in this sample of internal medicine residents and rates were consistent with other reports of burnout during medical residency. Dispositional mindfulness was supported as a protective factor against burnout. Importantly, results from the exploratory investigation of the relationship between burnout and resident evaluations suggested that burnout may improve performance on some domains of resident evaluations while compromising performance on other domains. Implications and directions for future research are discussed.

Keywords: burnout, mindfulness, internal medicine residents, performance evaluations

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