Religion, spirituality, and depressive symptoms in primary care house officers

Ambul Pediatr. Mar-Apr 2006;6(2):84-90. doi: 10.1016/j.ambp.2005.10.002.


Objective: The arduous nature of residency training places house officers at risk for depression. We sought to determine the prevalence of depressive symptoms in pediatric (PED), internal medicine (IM), family medicine (FM), and combined internal medicine-pediatric (IMPED) house staff, and spiritual/religious factors that are associated with prevalence of depressive symptoms.

Methods: PED, IM, FM, and IMPED residents at a major teaching program were asked to complete a questionnaire during their In-Training Examination. Depressive symptoms were measured with the 10-item Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale. Independent variables included demographics, residency program type, postgraduate level, current rotation, health status, religious affiliation, religiosity, religious coping, and spirituality.

Results: We collected data from 227 subjects. Their mean (SD) age was 28.7 (3.8) years; 131 (58%) were women; 167 (74%) were white; and 112 (49%) were PED, 62 (27%) were IM, 27 (12%) were FM, and 26 (12%) were IMPED residents. Fifty-seven house officers (25%) met the criteria for having significant depressive symptoms. Having depressive symptoms was significantly associated (P< .05) with residency program type, inpatient rotation status, poorer health status, poorer religious coping, and worse spiritual well-being. In multivariable analyses, having significant depressive symptoms was associated with program type, poorer religious coping, greater spiritual support seeking, and worse spiritual well-being.

Conclusions: Depressive symptoms are prevalent among house officers and are associated with certain residency program types and with residents' spiritual and religious characteristics. Identifying residents with depressive symptoms and potentially attending to their spiritual needs may improve their well-being.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Confidence Intervals
  • Depressive Disorder / diagnosis
  • Depressive Disorder / epidemiology*
  • Depressive Disorder / psychology
  • Education, Medical, Graduate
  • Family Practice / education
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Internal Medicine / education
  • Internship and Residency / statistics & numerical data*
  • Male
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Odds Ratio
  • Pediatrics / education
  • Physician Impairment / statistics & numerical data*
  • Prevalence
  • Primary Health Care*
  • Religion*
  • Risk Assessment
  • Sex Factors
  • Spirituality*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Workforce