Journal of Wellness


Introduction: The COVID-19 pandemic has taken a significant toll on societal, physical, and psychological health. Emergency physicians (EPs) are susceptible to burnout under ordinary circumstances and may be particularly vulnerable during the pandemic. To reduce pandemic-related burnout, we implemented a residency-led physical wellness initiative and evaluated the effect on burnout among EPs.

Methods: In the spring of 2020, we invited all resident and attending EPs in our department to participate in a four-week physical wellness initiative as part of a prospective study. After completing or opting out of this wellness initiative, EPs responded to an online survey comprised of five sections: demographics, participation, opinion on wellness initiative, opinion on the impact of COVID-19, and the Maslach Burnout Index (MBI-HSS). We stratified respondents by initiative participation, described the characteristics of each group, and then compared the perceived impact of COVID-19 and the MBI-HSS results between the two groups.

Results: Out of 110 eligible participants, 57 EPs completed the survey (51.8%). Thirty-five respondents completed the wellness initiative. Few (37.1%) documented their progress, though most worked with accountability partners (85.7%). Most enrollees enjoyed participation (Likert Score 3.2-5, CI 2.9-3.5) and would participate again (3.3, CI 3.0-3.6). The reported effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on mental wellbeing was lower for participants, although this was not significant (2.1, CI 1.5-2.1 vs 2.4, CI 2.0-2.7, p=0.312). On the MBI-HSS, participants had a lower emotional exhaustion score (1.4, 95% CI 0.9-1.8) than non-participants (2.2, 95%CI 1.8-2.6, p=0.005).

Conclusion: Participation in a residency-led, physical wellness initiative was linked to lower emotional exhaustion for EPs during the COVID-19 pandemic.





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