December CME - Can Professional Coaching Help Physicians with Burnout?

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Does professional coaching result in measurable reductions in burnout and measurable improvements in quality of life, resilience, job satisfaction, engagement, and fulfillment in physicians?

A pilot randomized clinical trial published in JAMA Internal Medicine involving 88 practicing physicians in the departments of medicine, family medicine, and pediatrics who volunteered for coaching was conducted between October 9, 2017, and March 27, 2018, at Mayo Clinic sites in Arizona, Florida, Minnesota, and Wisconsin. Statistical analysis was conducted from August 24, 2018, to March 25, 2019.

Participating physicians engaged in 6 coaching sessions facilitated by a professional coach.  The study evaluated burnout, quality of life, resilience, job satisfaction, engagement, and meaning at work using established metrics. Among the 88 physicians in the study (48 women and 40 men), after 6 months of professional coaching, emotional exhaustion decreased by a mean (SD) of 5.2 (8.7) points in the intervention group compared with an increase of 1.5 (7.7) points in the control group by the end of the study (P < .001). Absolute rates of high emotional exhaustion at 5 months decreased by 19.5% in the intervention group and increased by 9.8% in the control group (−29.3% [95% CI, −34.0% to −24.6%]) (P < .001). Absolute rates of overall burnout at 5 months also decreased by 17.1% in the intervention group and increased by 4.9% in the control group (−22.0% [95% CI, −25.2% to −18.7%]) (P < .001). Quality of life improved by a mean (SD) of 1.2 (2.5) points in the intervention group compared with 0.1 (1.7) points in the control group (1.1 points [95% CI, 0.04-2.1 points]) (P = .005), and resilience scores improved by a mean (SD) of 1.3 (5.2) points in the intervention group compared with 0.6 (4.0) points in the control group (0.7 points [95% CI, 0.0-3.0 points]) (P = .04). No statistically significant differences in depersonalization, job satisfaction, engagement, or meaning in work were observed.

The results of this pilot randomized trial suggest that organizationally sponsored professional coaching for physicians can reduce emotional exhaustion, improve overall quality of life, and build resilience. This intervention adds to the growing literature of evidence-based approaches to promote physician well-being and should be considered a complementary strategy to be deployed in combination with other organizational approaches to improve system-level drivers of work-related stressors.

To learn more and earn CME go to JN Learning on the AMA Ed Hubtm.

For the full article and references see the article here in JAMA Internal Medicine.

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