Wellness Interventions in Emergency Medicine Residency Programs: Review of the Literature Since 2017

West J Emerg Med. 2020 Dec 19;22(1):7-14. doi: 10.5811/westjem.2020.11.48884.


Introduction: Recent research demonstrates burnout prevalence rates as high as 76% in emergency medicine (EM) residents. In 2017 the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) required that all training programs provide dedicated wellness education for their trainees as a requirement for accreditation. We aimed to conduct a systematic review of published wellness interventions conducted in EM residency programs following the implementation of the 2017 ACGME Common Program Requirements change in order to characterized published intervention and evaluate their effectiveness.

Methods: We applied a published approach to conducting systematic reviews of the medical education literature. We performed a search of the literature from January 1, 2017-February 1, 2020. Studies were included for final review if they described a specific intervention and reported outcomes with the primary goal of improving EM resident wellness. Outcomes were characterized using the Kirkpatrick training evaluation model.

Results: Eight of 35 identified studies met inclusion criteria. Most described small convenience samples of EM residents from single training programs and used the satisfaction rates of participants as primary outcome data. Only quantitative assessment methods were used. Studies addressed only a limited number of factors affecting resident wellness. The majority of interventions focused on personal factors, although a few also included sociocultural factors and the learning and practice environment.

Conclusion: There is a relative dearth of literature in the area of research focused on interventions designed to improve EM resident wellness. Furthermore, the studies we identified are narrow in scope, involve relatively few participants, and describe programmatic changes of limited variety. Future directions include an increase and emphasis on multi-institutional studies, randomized controlled trials, qualitative methodology, and opportunities for funded research.

Publication types

  • Review