Assessing the Impact of Acupuncture Therapy on Medical Resident Well-being: A Feasibility and Acceptance Study

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PURPOSE:The aim of this study is to determine the feasibility and acceptability of group auricular acupuncture therapy to address burnout during residency training.BACKGROUND:Resident physicians experience high levels of job-related stress and associated symptoms of burnout. Auricular acupuncture has found to be associated with reductions in burnout, secondary traumatic stress and measurements of state and trait anxiety among health care providers.METHODS:In this single-arm study, residents of the NYU Brooklyn Campus Ob/Gyn Program were offered three acupuncture treatments over one month. The ProQOL (Professional Quality of Life) instrument was administered before and after each treatment. The residents' scores were calculated using the instrument's three domains: compassion satisfaction (CS), burnout (BO) and secondary traumatic stress (STS). Pre- and post-treatment scores were compared using the Wilcoxon Rank Sum test. A post-treatment survey at 1 week was administered.RESULTS:The study included 11 residents. Although the study was not powered for hypothesis testing, post-treatment scores on the ProQOL improved significantly in all domains. Mean CS scores were higher (m=40.35 vs. 37.75, P=.004), while BO and STS were lower (m=24.05 vs. 26.55, P=.002 and m=19.95 vs. 23.2, P<.001, respectively). Eighty percent of the residents responded to the post-treatment survey. All denied negative impacts of the therapy and 80% reported positive impacts. All responded positively to adding acupuncture to the workflow, although 20% would rather have time to relax or do other activities.DISCUSSION:Auricular acupuncture therapy was accepted by residents and can be a feasible intervention for reducing burnout in medical residents as measured by the ProQOL instrument.

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