Implementing a Universal Well-Being Assessment to Mitigate Barriers to Resident Utilization of Mental Health Resources

J Grad Med Educ. 2018 Feb;10(1):63-66. doi: 10.4300/JGME-D-17-00405.1.


Background: Physician utilization of well-being resources remains low despite efforts to promote use of these resources.

Objective: We implemented a well-being assessment for internal medicine residents to improve access and use of mental health services.

Methods: We scheduled all postgraduate year 1 (PGY-1) and PGY-2 residents at West Virginia University for the assessment at our faculty and staff assistance program (FSAP). While the assessment was intended to be universal (all residents), we allowed residents to "opt out." The assessment visit consisted of an evaluation by a licensed therapist, who assisted residents with a wellness plan. Anonymous surveys were distributed to all residents, and means were compared by Student's t test.

Results: Thirty-eight of 41 PGY-1 and PGY-2 residents (93%) attended the scheduled appointments. Forty-two of 58 residents (72%, including PGY-3s) completed the survey. Of 42 respondents, 28 (67%) attended the assessment sessions, and 14 (33%) did not. Residents who attended the sessions gave mean ratings of 7.8 for convenience (1, not convenient, to 9, very convenient), and 7.9 for feeling embarrassed if colleagues knew they attended (1, very embarrassed, to 9, not embarrassed). Residents who attended the assessment sessions reported they were more likely to use FSAP services in the future, compared with those who did not attend (P < .001).

Conclusions: Offering residents a well-being assessment may have mitigated barriers to using counseling resources. The majority of residents who participated had a positive view of the program and indicated they would return to FSAP if they felt they needed counseling.

MeSH terms

  • Brief Psychiatric Rating Scale
  • Education, Medical, Graduate
  • Health Promotion*
  • Health Services Accessibility
  • Humans
  • Internal Medicine / education*
  • Internship and Residency*
  • Mental Health Services / statistics & numerical data*