Background: Medical house officers are at increased risk for stress related symptoms leading to professional burnout. Aims: Measure burnout in house officers and establish whether utilization of a psychotherapeutic tool individually by physicians reduces symptoms characteristic of burnout. Method: Two groups of pediatric house officers at the University of California Davis Health System completed a Maslach Burnout Survey (MBS) at the beginning and end of a three-month period in 2003. An Intervention group (7 of 15 enrolled) was trained in the use of a self-administered psychotherapeutic tool. Outcome Measures were MBS scores and a qualitative interview of intervention group members. Results: There were no significant differences between the two groups, prior to the study or over time. Qualitative interviews revealed that subjects experience stressors in relation to their professional activities, but already utilize some elements of the tool and were too busy to implement the entire tool systematically. Conclusions: Pediatric trainees did not seem to manifest burnout symptoms based upon the MBS; interviews suggested that some do experience significant stress, although manifestations and responses were varied, some may be at risk. Methods identifying individuals at risk for burnout, and interventions to cope with stress may be valuable to their training.
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