A Randomized Controlled Trial of a Longitudinal Mindfulness Intervention to Decrease Burnout in Medical Residents





Embargo Period


Grant/Award Number and Agency



Introduction: Burnout is common among resident physicians due to the emotional, intellectual, and time demands of training. Mind-body interventions such as mindfulness may alleviate stress and protect against burnout.

Methods: A randomized controlled longitudinal mindfulness intervention was implemented in both internal medicine and pediatrics residency programs for first-year residents at Washington University School of Medicine (St. Louis, MO). This included three 30-minute mindfulness training sessions and encouragement to use the smartphone application, Insight Timer. Primary outcomes were baseline and 12 month burnout scores, measured by Maslach Burnout Inventory. Secondary outcomes assessed feasibility and individual mindfulness practice during the study period. Analysis was performed utilizing paired t-tests to matched pre and post-intervention data as well as multivariate regression analysis to discover possible associations with burnout.

Results: Twenty-four residents (24/69 (35%) of those randomized) completed both surveys and were included in the analysis. Emotional exhaustion scores improved in the intervention group but worsened in the control, with a mean score difference of -3.1 vs 2.0, respectively, but did not achieve statistical significance (p=0.244). Depersonalization scores increased (worsened) in both groups, but less so in the intervention group (mean score difference 0.8 vs 3.1, p=0.412). A majority of residents in both groups agreed they benefited from regular practice of mindfulness (intervention: 11/17 [65%]; control: 12/16 [75%], p=0.712). Most of residents agreed (7/17, 41%) or felt neutral (8/17, 47%) that the intervention was useful throughout the year.

Conclusions: This randomized controlled trial of a longitudinal mindfulness intervention in residents proved easy to implement, affordable, and resulted a trend towards improved burnout scores in the intervention arm Residency programs and healthcare organizations can adopt similar strategies to improve physician mental health and reduce burnout.




50 KB



Publication Date