Original Article

Changes in Health and Well-Being during Residents’ Training

Authors: Christopher E. Wee MD, Jacob Petrosky MD, Lauren Mientkiewicz DO, Xiaobo Liu PhD, Krishna K. Patel MD, Michael B. Rothberg MD, MPH


Objectives: Previous studies have characterized the negative effects of graduate medical education on physicians; however, there is limited longitudinal data on how physicians’ well-being changes during their training. This study aimed to demonstrate and quantify changes to trainees’ wellness and health habits during the course of their first 2 years of graduate medical education.

Methods: A longitudinal survey study of postgraduate year 1 trainees at the Cleveland Clinic was administered at 3 time points: the initial survey during orientation week, a second survey at 1 year, and a final survey at 2 years.

Results: Of the 170 trainees contacted, 59 (35%) completed the initial survey and 34 (58%) completed the first follow-up survey. Between the initial survey and the first follow-up survey, respondents reported that their health was worse than the prior year (P < 0.001). They also reported sleeping on average 1 hour less per night and exercising on average one fewer day per week. The number of individuals who reported not eating breakfast increased by 22%, whereas the number of individuals eating out at lunch more than doubled. Twenty-seven people completed the second follow-up survey. Between the first follow-up survey and the final survey, respondents gained on average 2.12 lb (P = 0.039). Breakfast, lunch, and sleeping habits persisted through the second follow-up survey.

Conclusions: Residents’ health and wellness habits deteriorated during internship and did not improve in the second year of residency. Efforts to promote healthy habits in this population should be a priority.

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