Key factors for implementing mindfulness-based burnout interventions in surgery

Am J Surg. 2020 Feb;219(2):328-334. doi: 10.1016/j.amjsurg.2019.10.025. Epub 2019 Oct 17.


Background: Burnout and distress are widespread issues in surgical training. While effective interventions are slowly coming to light, little has been published regarding the sustainable implementation of such interventions, including the critical need to identify barriers and enablers.

Methods: Enhanced Stress Resilience Training (ESRT), a mindfulness-based cognitive intervention for surgical trainees, was delivered and studied on three separate occasions. For each, focus groups, field notes, surveys and interviews were collected involving leadership, administrators and participants. Thematic analysis was used in each instance, and across instances, to explore concepts and themes, which were used to identify critical influences effecting implementation.

Results: Culture (surrounding the intervention), infrastructure (supporting the intervention) and adaptability (of the intervention) were repeatedly critical influences, guiding iterative adaptation of the intervention, and resulting in sustainability across groups and over time.

Conclusions: Identifying critical influences on intervention feasibility and acceptability can guide intervention refinement and shift sustainable implementation barriers to become enablers, as was the case at our institution. This approach may be useful in other settings.

Keywords: Burnout; Implementation; Intervention; Mindfulness; Stress; Surgery.

MeSH terms

  • Burnout, Professional / psychology*
  • Burnout, Professional / therapy*
  • Education, Medical, Graduate / methods
  • Female
  • General Surgery / education*
  • Humans
  • Internship and Residency / methods
  • Male
  • Mindfulness
  • Prognosis
  • Qualitative Research
  • Quality of Life
  • Resilience, Psychological*
  • Stress, Psychological / prevention & control*