Objective: Evaluate the utility of a computer-based, interactive, and individualized intervention for promoting well-being in US surgeons.
Background: Distress and burnout are common among US surgeons. Surgeons experiencing distress are unlikely to seek help on their own initiative. A belief that distress and burnout are a normal part of being a physician and lack of awareness of distress level relative to colleagues may contribute to this problem.
Methods: Surgeons who were members of the American College of Surgeons were invited to participate in an intervention study. Participating surgeons completed a 3-step, interactive, electronic intervention. First, surgeons subjectively assessed their well-being relative to colleagues. Second, surgeons completed the 7-item Mayo Clinic Physician Well-Being Index and received objective, individualized feedback about their well-being relative to national physician norms. Third, surgeons evaluated the usefulness of the feedback and whether they intended to make specific changes as a result.
Results: A total of 1150 US surgeons volunteered to participate in the study. Surgeons' subjective assessment of their well-being relative to colleagues was poor. A majority of surgeons (89.2%) believed that their well-being was at or above average, including 70.5% with scores in the bottom 30% relative to national norms. After receiving objective, individualized feedback based on the Mayo Clinic Physician Well-Being Index score, 46.6% of surgeons indicated that they intended to make specific changes as a result. Surgeons with lower well-being scores were more likely to make changes in each dimension assessed (all Ps<0.001).
Conclusions: US surgeons do not reliably calibrate their level of distress. After self-assessment and individualized feedback using the Mayo Clinic Physician Well-Being Index, half of participating surgeons reported that they were contemplating behavioral changes to improve personal well-being.