UMMS Affiliation

Department of Emergency Medicine; Department of Medicine, Division of Preventive and Behavioral Medicine; Department of Medicine, Division of Cardiovascular Medicine

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Document Type



Alternative and Complementary Medicine | Behavior and Behavior Mechanisms | Emergency Medicine | Religion


BACKGROUND: Burnout is highly prevalent among Emergency Medicine (EM) physicians and has significant impact on quality of care and workforce retention. The objective of this study was to determine whether higher religion/spirituality (R/S) is associated with a lower prevalence of burnout among EM physicians (primary outcome). A history of malpractice lawsuits and maladaptive behaviors were the secondary outcomes.

METHODS: This was a cross-sectional, survey-based study conducted among a random sample of physicians from the Massachusetts College of Emergency Physicians mailing list. Burnout was measured using a validated 2-item version of the Maslach Burnout Inventory. Maladaptive behaviors (smoking, drinking, and substance use) and medical malpractice were self-reported. R/S measures included organized religiosity, religious affiliation, private R/S practice, self-rated spirituality, religious rest, and religious commitment. Logistic regression was used to model study outcomes as a function of R/S predictors.

RESULTS: Of 422 EM physicians who received the invitation to participate, 138 completed the survey (32.7%). The prevalence of burnout was 27%. No significant associations were observed between burnout and R/S indicators. Maladaptive behaviors (adjusted OR = 0.42, CI: 0.19 to 0.96; p = 0.039) and history of medical malpractice (adjusted OR = 0.32; CI: 0.11 to 0.93; p = 0.037) were less likely among physicians reporting to be more involved in organized religious activity and to observe a day of rest for religious reasons, respectively.

CONCLUSION: This study provides preliminary evidence for a possible protective association of certain dimensions of R/S on maladaptive behaviors and medical malpractice among EM physicians.


Burnout, Emergency medicine, Prevention, Religion, Spirituality

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Copyright © 2016 The Authors. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license (

DOI of Published Version



Prev Med Rep. 2016 Feb 1;3:189-95. doi: 10.1016/j.pmedr.2016.01.009. eCollection 2016. Link to article on publisher's site

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Preventive medicine reports

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Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.