Prolonged hours of work are very common among Obstetrician-gynecologists (OB-GYNs). Coping with the resulting fatigue is variable and dependent on internal factors (personal preference, habits, personality) as well as external factors (practice setting, available resources). To better inform strategies for dealing with fatigue and ultimately address potential physician burnout, we asked a national sample of OB-GYNs about their coping strategies as part of a larger survey.METHODS:
A survey was distributed electronically to 25,877 board certified OB-GYNs by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG). One of the questions asked: “What tools have you employed to help prevent fatigue during on-call hours?” Multiple choice answers format was used with a free text option whose answers were further classified into constructive and cynical domains. Descriptive statistics were applied.RESULTS:
9,633 (39.4%) of ACOG Fellows responded with 5,283 answering the question regarding tools. The two most common tools were “strategic napping” (43.6%) and “limited/no work post-call” (43%). Among “other suggestions or comments,” 36.6% of answers were classified as cynical, 8.7% reported changes in time/practice design, 5.7% used individual coping tools such as coffee and exercise, and 4.2% reported inability to address fatigue.CONCLUSION:
This study explores strategies used by individual OB-GYNs to cope with fatigue related to on-call activities. Though the impact on delivery of patient care is unclear, the current data exposes a gap that needs to be addressed. Further analysis of determinants and efficacy of coping styles is needed with institutions and professional organizations playing a leading role.