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From the Heart
November 2017

Burnout—There’s an App for That: Helping Physicians Deal With Job-Related Stress

Author Affiliations
  • 1Ascension Wisconsin, Columbia St Mary’s Hospital Milwaukee, Milwaukee
JAMA Cardiol. 2017;2(11):1185-1186. doi:10.1001/jamacardio.2017.1758

“Burnout,” or job-related dysphoria, has been recognized since the time of Plato and Hippocrates, about the same time Buddha began teaching the practice of meditation. As the practice of medicine in the ensuing millennia has become more complex and perhaps more stressful, the practice of secular mindful meditation has kept pace, with a plethora of cell phone–based apps now available to guide harried humans, physicians too, in a process of slowing down the incessant activity of their minds to spend a quiet moment in simple awareness of the here and now. This allows a reset of the mind to deal with the world as it exists at that very moment. Mindfulness-based stress reduction techniques, practiced for at least 2 millennia, have beneficial effects in pain management and depression and may reduce psychological distress or improve the well-being of nurses and physicians in training.1,2 Meta-analyses of trials incorporating mindfulness and cognitive behavioral modifications in hospital settings and primary care practices show improvement in burnout scores, especially when coupled with reductions in the intensity of workload.3 Neurobiologists have found objective evidence of beneficial effects of meditation on brain function.4,5