Objective: To delineate the specific practices that physicians use to promote their own well-being.
Design, setting, and participants: 304 members of a primary care practice-based research group responded by mail to a survey on physician well-being. From the original survey, 130 subjects responded to an open-ended survey item regarding their own wellness-promotion practices.
Methods: Qualitative content analysis was used to identify the common themes in the physicians' responses to the open-ended question. A validated 18-item instrument, the Scales of Psychological Well-Being (SPWB), was used for measurement.
Main outcome measures: Similarities and differences between the various wellness-promotion practices that respondents reported using and associations between the use of these practices and SPWB scores.
Results: The 5 primary wellness-promotion practices that evolved from thematic analysis of the survey responses included "relationships," "religion or spirituality," "self-care," "work," and "approaches to life." The use of the last type of practice was significantly associated with increased psychological well-being (SPWB) scores compared with the use of any of the other wellness-promotion practice categories (P<0.01), and there was a trend toward increased well-being among users of any category of wellness-promotion practices. Comments by our respondents provide specific descriptions of how physicians attend to their emotional, spiritual, and psychological well-being.
Conclusion: Physicians use a variety of approaches to promote their own well-being, which sort themselves into 5 main categories and appear to correlate with improved levels of psychological well-being among users.