Department of Psychiatry
Medical Education | Mental and Social Health | Psychiatry | Psychiatry and Psychology | Religion
Medical student burnout has been associated with depression, loss of empathy, and suicidal ideation. Spirituality has been identified in previous studies as a protective factor in coping with the stress but has not been examined as a factor in medical student burnout. An internet link to an anonymous survey was sent via email to medical students at a public northeastern medical school; 259/469 (55.2%) completed it. The survey included measures of spirituality, burnout, psychological distress, coping, and general happiness. A Pearson-r correlation showed significant inverse correlations between measures of spirituality and measures of psychological distress/burnout (r's ranging from -.62 to -.14; p's < .01). In contrast, a positive correlation was found between life satisfaction and spirituality (r's .53 to .12; p < .05). Using hierarchical multiple regression with demographics (Step 1), mental health variables (Step 2), and satisfaction and Adaptive coping (Step 3), burnout remained significantly related to lower scores on both spirituality measures (FACIT-SP p < .00 and DSE p < .05). Students having higher levels of spiritual well being and daily spiritual experiences described themselves as more satisfied with their life in general, while students with low scores on spiritual well being and daily spiritual experiences had higher levels of psychological distress and burnout. Spirituality may therefore be a protective factor against burnout in medical students and future studies should explore potential causal relationships.
medical students, burnout, spirituality, religion
Rights and Permissions
This is an open access article licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License which permits unrestricted, non-commercial use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the work is properly cited.
DOI of Published Version
Wachholtz A, Rogoff M. The relationship between spirituality and burnout among medical students. J Contemp Med Edu. 2013; 1(2): 83-91. doi:10.5455/jcme.20130104060612
Journal of Contemporary Medical Education
Wachholtz, Amy B. and Rogoff, Mai-Lan A., "The relationship between spirituality and burnout among medical students" (2013). Psychiatry Publications and Presentations. 711.