Background: Despite the critical importance of well-being during residency training, only a few Canadian studies have examined stress in residency and none have examined well-being resources. No recent studies have reported any significant concerns with respect to perceived stress levels in residency. We investigated the level of perceived stress, mental health and understanding and need for well-being resources among resident physicians in training programs in Alberta, Canada.
Methods: A mail questionnaire was distributed to the entire resident membership of PARA during 2003 academic year. PARA represents each of the two medical schools in the province of Alberta.
Results: In total 415 (51 %) residents participated in the study. Thirty-four percent of residents who responded to the survey reported their life as being stressful. Females reported stress more frequently than males (40% vs. 27%, p < 0.02). Time pressure was reported as the number one factor contributing to stress (44% of males and 57% of females). A considerable proportion of residents would change their specialty program (14%) and even more would not pursue medicine (22%) if given the opportunity to relive their career. Up to 55% of residents reported experiencing intimidation and harassment. Intimidation and harassment was strongly related to gender (12% of males and 38% of females). Many residents (17%) rated their mental health as fair or poor. This was more than double the amount reported in the Canadian Community Health Survey from the province (8%) or the country (7%). Residents highly valued their colleagues (67%), program directors (60%) and external psychiatrist/psychologist (49%) as well-being resources. Over one third of residents wished to have a career counselor (39%) and financial counselor (38%).
Conclusion: Many Albertan residents experience significant stressors and emotional and mental health problems. Some of which differ among genders. This study can serve as a basis for future resource application, research and advocacy for overall improvements to well-being during residency training.