Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Mindfulness to minimize physician burnout

Author: Jenny Mesrie

Research has shown that practicing mindfulness may actually improve physician well-being and attitudes associated with patient-centered care. In an article published in JAMA, Krasner et al studied the effects of an intensive educational program in mindfulness, communication, and self-awareness.

Primary care physicians are working hard these days. Up to 60% of primary care physicians report symptoms of burnout. Many physicians report personal consequences such as substance abuse, stress-related health problems, and marital discord.

Physician burnout = poorer quality care for patients

How can we begin to solve this problem? While primary care physicians are caring for the general public, who is looking out for them?

Physicians need to be encouraged to participate in mindfulness and other self-awareness programs. Research has shown improvements in measures such as emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, sense of personal accomplishment, and total mood disturbance.

Better physician self-care of this nature may directly result in a better capacity for caring and relating to patients.

For the article in JAMA, click here.

This was written by Jenny Mesrie.

Jenny Mesrie is a fourth year medical student at SUNY Downstate College of Medicine. She graduated from Columbia University with a BA in Neuroscience and Behavior. She is passionate about physician wellness and doctor-patient communication. She is also interested in patient empowerment and making medical information accessible to the general public. In her free time, she studies how mindful practices influence the quality of patient care. In addition to blogging, she enjoys theater, film, and music.

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