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Letters |

Medical Residents' Emotional Well-being

Tait Shanafelt, MD; Thomas Habermann, MD
JAMA. 2002;288(15):1846-1847. doi:10.1001/jama.288.15.1845.
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To the Editor: In their On Call article, Dr Bellini and colleagues1 described the relationship between mood and empathy in a sample of interns. My colleagues and I recently reported a relationship between emotional distress in residents and the quality of the care they deliver.2

While Bellini et al state they were unaware of previous longitudinal studies reporting on variations in mood during the course of the internship, we are aware of 2 studies that reported similar data.3,4 Like the study by Bellini et al, one of these studies found that depression and fatigue in residents was greatest in February.3 Over the last 2 decades, the negative emotional consequences of residency training have been well documented. In an effort to improve the situation, the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) recently published new guidelines that restrict resident work hours.5 While these regulations represent an effort toward meaningful progress, little evidence was available to guide these changes, and the extent to which they will improve emotional distress in residents remains unknown. Future studies of resident distress should focus on identifying causes and solutions for resident distress rather than just further describing the problem. More important, studies exploring how to promote residents' well-being are needed to understand not only how to eliminate the problem but also how to promote residents' emotional health.

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