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Perioper Care Oper Room Manag


Background: Anesthesiologists are at high risk of developing burnout, a condition which can lead to many deleterious effects for the physician, and far-reaching effects on their patients and hospital systems. The COVID-19 pandemic has presented new challenges that have further exacerbated the risk of burnout in anesthesiologists. It is critical to develop effective strategies to promote well-being and decrease burnout for physicians in this specialty. The purpose of this observational study was to evaluate the impact of a Physician Well-Being Initiative on distress and well-being in anesthesiologists. It was hypothesized that the wellness intervention would promote an improvement in well-being scores.

Methods: The Physician Well-Being Initiative was launched in August 2019 in the Department of Anesthesiology, Pain Management and Perioperative Medicine at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, Michigan. The Physician Well-Being Initiative was designed to address several of the key factors that improve physician wellness, including 1) a sense of autonomy; 2) positive view of leadership; and 3) flexible schedule opportunities. To assess the impact of the Physician Well-Being Initiative on the well-being and distress scores of participating anesthesiologists, the physicians were emailed the validated Well-Being Index survey at baseline and 3, 6 and 12 months. The Well-Being Index evaluates multiple items of distress in the healthcare setting. The sample size was limited to the 54 anesthesiologists at Henry Ford Hospital.

Results: Forty-four of the 54 anesthesiologists completed the baseline questionnaire. A total of 44 physicians answered the questionnaire at baseline, with more male than female physicians (35 males and 7 females) and the majority (17/44) in practice for 5-10 years. Thirty-two physicians completed the survey at 3 and 6 months, and 31 physicians at 12 months after the launch of the Physician Well-Being Initiative. Twenty-one physicians completed the questionnaire at all 4 time points. Although the COVID-19 pandemic started shortly after the 6-month surveys were submitted, results indicated that there was a 0.05 decrease in the Well-Being Index sum score for every 1-month of time (coefficient -0.05, 95% CI -0.01, -0.08, P = 0.013). This study shows that, with the wellness initiative in place, the department was able to maintain and potentially even reduce physician distress despite the concurrent onset of the pandemic.

Conclusions: Following the launch of a sustained wellness initiative, this study demonstrates that physician wellness improved with time. This suggests that it takes time for a wellness initiative to have an effect on well-being and distress in anesthesiologists.

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