Emergency medicine resident well-being: stress and satisfaction

Occup Med (Lond). 2014 Jan;64(1):45-8. doi: 10.1093/occmed/kqt139. Epub 2013 Dec 4.


Background: Emergency medicine (EM) residents are exposed to many work-related stressors, which affect them both physically and emotionally. It is unknown, however, how EM residents perceive the effect of these stressors on their well-being and how often they use unhealthy coping mechanisms to manage stress.

Aims: To evaluate EM residents' perceptions of stressors related to their overall well-being and the prevalence of various coping mechanisms.

Methods: An online survey instrument was developed to gauge resident stress, satisfaction with current lifestyle, stress coping mechanisms and demographics. A stratified random sample of EM residents from three postgraduate years (PGY-I, PGY-II and PGY-III) was obtained. Descriptive statistics and one-way analysis of variance were used to compare residents across PGY level.

Results: There were 120 potential participants in each of the three PGYs. The overall response rate was 30% (109) with mean age of 30 and 61% were male. On a 0-4 scale (0 = completely dissatisfied), respondents in PGY-I reported significantly less satisfaction with lifestyle than those in PGY-II and III (mean rating: 1.29, 1.66 and 1.70, respectively; P < 0.001). There were no significant differences in mean ratings between PGYs on each of the other stress categories: work relationships (1.37), work environment (1.10) and response to patients (1.08). Residents reported exercise (94%), hobbies (89%) and use of alcohol (71%) as coping methods.

Conclusions: Residents reported low satisfaction with current lifestyle. This dissatisfaction was unrelated to perceived work-related stress. Some undesirable coping methods were prevalent, suggesting that training programs could focus on promotion of healthy group activities.

Keywords: Alcohol; coping mechanism; emergency medicine resident; lifestyle satisfaction; residency training; stress management; well-being; wellness; work stressors; workplace health promotion..

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological*
  • Adult
  • Education, Medical, Graduate* / statistics & numerical data
  • Emergency Medicine / education*
  • Female
  • Health Promotion
  • Humans
  • Internship and Residency*
  • Male
  • Occupational Exposure / statistics & numerical data*
  • Personal Satisfaction
  • Stress, Psychological / epidemiology*
  • Stress, Psychological / etiology
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Workload / psychology