A National Survey of Burnout and Depression Among Fellows Training in Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine: A Special Report by the Association of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine Program Directors

Academic Article


  • Background: The prevalence of burnout and depressive symptoms is high among physician trainees. Research Question: What is the burden of burnout and depressive symptoms among fellows training in pulmonary and critical care medicine (PCCM) and what are associated individual fellow, program, and institutional characteristics? Study Design and Methods: We conducted a cross-sectional electronic survey of fellows enrolled in pulmonary, PCCM, and critical care medicine training programs in the United States to assess burnout and depressive symptoms. Burnout symptoms were measured using the Maslach Burnout Index two-item measure. The two-item Primary Care Evaluation of Mental Disorders Procedure was used to screen for depressive symptoms. For each of the two outcomes (burnout and depressive symptoms), we constructed three multivariate logistic regression models to assess individual fellow characteristics, program structure, and institutional polices associated with either burnout or depressive symptoms. Results: Five hundred two of the 976 fellows who received the survey completed it—including both outcome measures—giving a response rate of 51%. Fifty percent of fellows showed positive results for either burnout or depressive symptoms, with 41% showing positive results for depressive symptoms, 32% showing positive results for burnout, and 23% showing positive results for both. Reporting a coverage system in the case of personal illness or emergency (adjusted OR [aOR], 0.44; 95% CI, 0.26-0.73) and access to mental health services (aOR, 0.14; 95% CI, 0.04-0.47) were associated with lower odds of burnout. Financial concern was associated with higher odds of depressive symptoms (aOR, 1.13; 95% CI, 1.05-1.22). Working more than 70 hours in an average clinical week and the burdens of electronic health record (EHR) documentation were associated with a higher odds of both burnout and depressive symptoms. Interpretation: Given the high prevalence of burnout and depressive symptoms among fellows training in PCCM, an urgent need exists to identify solutions that address this public health crisis. Strategies such as providing an easily accessible coverage system, access to mental health resources, reducing EHR burden, addressing work hours, and addressing financial concerns among trainees may help to reduce burnout or depressive symptoms and should be studied further by the graduate medical education community.
  • Published In

  • Chest  Journal
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Sharp M; Burkart KM; Adelman MH; Ashton RW; Daugherty Biddison L; Bosslet GT; Doyle ST; Eckmann T; Malik MM; Lenz PH
  • Start Page

  • 733
  • End Page

  • 742
  • Volume

  • 159
  • Issue

  • 2