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J Gen Intern Med. 2019 Jul;34(7):1251-1257. doi: 10.1007/s11606-019-04913-y. Epub 2019 Apr 29.

Transdisciplinary Strategies for Physician Wellness: Qualitative Insights from Diverse Fields.

Author information

1
Center for Health Policy and Center for Primary Care and Outcomes Research, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, CA, USA. raschwartz@stanford.edu.
2
Center for Innovation to Implementation (Ci2i), VA Palo Alto Health Care System, Menlo Park, CA, USA. raschwartz@stanford.edu.
3
Center for Health Policy and Center for Primary Care and Outcomes Research, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, CA, USA.
4
Center for Innovation to Implementation (Ci2i), VA Palo Alto Health Care System, Menlo Park, CA, USA.
5
Evaluation Sciences Unit, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, CA, USA.
6
Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA.
7
Division of Primary Care and Population Health, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, CA, USA.
8
Stanford Prevention Research Center, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, CA, USA.
9
Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, CA, USA.
10
Presence Center, Department of Medicine, Stanford University, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, CA, USA.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

While barriers to physician wellness have been well detailed, concrete solutions are lacking.

OBJECTIVE:

We looked to professionals across diverse fields whose work requires engagement and interpersonal connection with clients. The goal was to identify effective strategies from non-medical fields that could be applied to preserve physician wellness.

DESIGN:

We conducted semi-structured interviews with 30 professionals outside the field of clinical medicine whose work involves fostering effective connections with individuals.

PARTICIPANTS:

Professionals from diverse professions, including the protective services (e.g., police officer, firefighter), business/finance (e.g., restaurateur, salesperson), management (e.g., CEO, school principal), education, art/design/entertainment (e.g., professional musician, documentary filmmaker), community/social services (e.g., social worker, chaplain), and personal care/services (e.g., massage therapist, yoga instructor).

APPROACH:

Interviews covered strategies that professionals use to initiate and maintain relationships, practices that cultivate professional fulfillment and preserve wellness, and techniques that facilitate emotional presence during interactions. Data were coded using an inductive thematic analysis approach.

KEY RESULTS:

Professionals identified self-care strategies at both institutional and individual levels that support wellness. Institutional-level strategies include scheduling that allows for self-care, protected time to connect with colleagues, and leadership support for debriefing after traumatic events. Individual strategies include emotionally protective distancing techniques and engagement in a bidirectional exchange that is central to interpersonal connection and professional fulfillment.

LIMITATIONS:

In this exploratory study, the purposive sampling technique and single representative per occupation could limit the generalizability of findings.

CONCLUSION:

Across diverse fields, professionals employ common institutional and personal wellness strategies that facilitate meaningful engagement, support collegiality, and encourage processing after intense events. The transdisciplinary nature of these wellness strategies highlights universal underpinnings that support wellbeing in those engaging in people-oriented professions.

KEYWORDS:

doctor-patient relationships; medical humanities; physician satisfaction; professional burnout; qualitative research

PMID:
31037542
PMCID:
PMC6614234
[Available on 2020-07-01]
DOI:
10.1007/s11606-019-04913-y

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