Interventions to Prevent and Reduce Burnout Among Undergraduate and Graduate Medical Education Trainees: a Systematic Review

  • Anne L. WalshEmail author
  • Susan Lehmann
  • Jeffrey Zabinski
  • Maria Truskey
  • Taylor Purvis
  • Neda F. Gould
  • Susan Stagno
  • Margaret S. Chisolm
In Depth Article: Systematic and Other Reviews



The authors conducted a systematic review of the published literature to identify interventions to prevent and/or reduce burnout among medical students and residents.


The authors searched 10 databases (from the start of each through September 21, 2016) using keywords related to burnout, medical education, and prevention. Teams of two authors independently reviewed the search results to select peer-reviewed, English language articles describing educational interventions to prevent and/or reduce burnout among medical students and/or residents that were evaluated using validated burnout measures. They assessed study quality using the Medical Education Research Study Quality Instrument and the Cochrane Risk of Bias Tool.


Fourteen studies met inclusion criteria and all used the Maslach Burnout Inventory as at least one measure of burnout. Four were single group pre-post studies, 6 non-randomized two-group studies, and 4 randomized controlled trials. None of the studies were designed specifically to target burnout prevention. In 12 studies, residents were the targeted learners. Six of the 14 studies reported statistically significant changes in burnout scores: 5 reported improvement and 1 reported worsening of burnout. Of the 5 studies that reported statistically significant benefit, 1 studied a complementary and alternative medicine elective, 1 studied the Respiratory One Meditation method, and 3 studied duty hour changes.


This review highlights the need for rigorously designed studies in burnout prevention and reduction among residents and especially medical students.


Burnout Burnout prevention Residency Resident burnout Medical students 



This project was made possible with a Mapping the Landscape, Journeying Together grant from the Arnold P. Gold Foundation.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

The authors determined that IRB approval was not applicable as this is a systematic review of previously published studies.


On behalf of all authors, the corresponding author states that there is no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Academic Psychiatry 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Johns Hopkins University School of MedicineBaltimoreUSA
  2. 2.Case Western Reserve University School of MedicineClevelandUSA

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