November 1991

A Stress Management Workshop Improves Residents' Coping Skills

Author Affiliations

From the Tufts University School of Medicine, Boston, Mass (Dr McCue), and the Baystate Medical Center, Springfield, Mass (Dr Sachs).

Arch Intern Med. 1991;151(11):2273-2277. doi:10.1001/archinte.1991.00400110117023

We describe the effectiveness of a stress management workshop designed for physicians. Of the 64 medicine, pediatrics, and medicine-pediatrics residents who agreed to participate in the workshop, the 43 who could be freed from clinical responsibilities constituted the intervention group; the 21 residents who could not be freed from clinical responsibilities were asked to be the nonintervention group. The ESSI Stress Systems Instrument and Maslach Burnout Inventory were administered to control subjects and workshop participants 2 weeks before and 6 weeks after the workshop. The half-day workshops taught management of the stresses of medical practice through: (1) learning and practicing interpersonal skills that increase the availability of social support; (2) prioritization of personal, work, and educational demands; (3) techniques to increase stamina and attend to self-care needs; (4) recognition and avoidance of maladaptive responses; and (5) positive outlook skills. Overall, the ESSI Stress Systems Instrument test scores for the workshop participants improved (+1.27), while the nonintervention group's mean scores declined ( - 0.65). All 21 individual ESSI Stress Systems Instrument scale items improved for the workshop, compared with eight of 21 items for the nonintervention group. The workshop group improved in the Maslach Burnout Inventory emotional exhaustion scale and deteriorated less than the nonintervention group in the depersonalization scale. We conclude that a modest, inexpensive stress management workshop was received positively, and can lead to significant short-term improvement in stress and burnout test scores for medicine and pediatrics residents.

(Arch Intern Med. 1991;151:2273-2277)