Mental health promotion for junior physicians working in emergency medicine: evaluation of a pilot study

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Abstract

Objectives

Work-related stress is highly prevalent among physicians working in emergency medicine. Mental health promotion interventions offer the chance to strengthen physicians’ health, work ability, and performance. The aim of this study was to implement and evaluate a mental health promotion program for junior physicians working in emergency medicine.

Methods

In total, 70 junior physicians working in emergency medicine were randomized to either the mental health promotion program (n=35) or a waitlist control arm (n=35). The training involved 90-min sessions over a time period of 3 months. The primary outcome was perceived stress. The secondary outcomes included emotional exhaustion, emotion regulation, work engagement, and job satisfaction. Self-report assessments for both groups were scheduled at baseline, after the training, after 12 weeks, and 6 months.

Results

The intervention group showed a highly significant reduction in perceived stress and emotional exhaustion from baseline to all follow-up time points, with no similar effects found in the comparison group. The benefit of the mental health promotion program was also evident in terms of improved emotion regulation skills, job satisfaction, and work engagement. Participating physicians evaluated the training with high scores for design, content, received outcome, and overall satisfaction.

Conclusion

The results suggest that this health promotion program is a promising intervention to strengthen mental health and reduce perceived work stress. It is suitable for implementation as a group training program for junior physicians working in emergency medicine. Comparable interventions should be pursued further as a valuable supportive offer by hospital management.

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