Who Benefits Most? A Multisite Study of Coaching and Resident Well-being

J Gen Intern Med. 2022 Feb;37(3):539-547. doi: 10.1007/s11606-021-06903-5. Epub 2021 Jun 7.


Background: Coaching has been shown to improve resident well-being; however, not all benefit equally.

Objective: Assess predictors of changes in resident physician well-being and burnout in a multisite implementation of a Professional Development Coaching Program.

Design: Pre- and post-implementation surveys administered to participant cohorts at implementation sites in their intern year. Effect size was calculated comparing pre- and post-intervention paired data.

Participants: In total, 272 residents in their intern year at five internal medicine residency programs (Boston Medical Center, University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center, Duke University, Emory University, Massachusetts General Hospital). Analyses included 129 residents with paired data.

Interventions: Interns were paired with a faculty coach trained in positive psychology and coaching skills and asked to meet quarterly with coaches.

Main measures: Primary outcomes included Maslach Burnout Inventory depersonalization (DP) and emotional exhaustion (EE) subscales, and the PERMA well-being scale. Key predictors included site, demographics, intolerance of uncertainty, hardiness-resilience, gratitude, and coping. Program moderators included were reflection, goal setting, and feedback.

Key results: Well-being (PERMA) changed from baseline to follow-up in all participants; females showed a decline and males an increase (-1.41 vs. .83, p = 0.04). Self-reflection was associated with positive change in PERMA (mean positive change 1.93, p = 0.009). Burnout (EE) declined in non-Hispanic white residents vs. Black/Asian/Hispanic/other residents (-1.86, p = 0.021). Burnout improved with increased goal setting.

Conclusion: Coaching programs should consider tailored approaches to support residents whose well-being is impacted by gender and/or race, and who have higher intolerance of uncertainty and lower resilience at baseline. Coaching skills of goal setting and reflection may positively affect interns and teach coping skills.

Keywords: burnout; coaching; faculty development; graduate medical education; well-being.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Burnout, Professional* / prevention & control
  • Burnout, Professional* / psychology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Internship and Residency*
  • Male
  • Massachusetts
  • Mentoring*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires