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LO42: How I stay healthy in emergency medicine: a qualitative analysis of a blog-based survey of expert emergency physicians and their methods to maintain and improve their wellness

  • J. Chou (a1), Z. Poonja (a1), M. Innes (a1), M. Lin (a1), T. M. Chan (a1), B. Azan (a1) and B. Thoma (a1)...

Abstract

Introduction: Emergency medicine (EM) is a demanding specialty with high rates of physician burnout. As emergency physicians, we must stay healthy to promote healthy living, optimize our ability to care for our patients, extend our careers, and be there for our families. While we all desire a healthy lifestyle, maintaining one in practice can be difficult. We sought to investigate the strategies emergency physician employ to maintain and improve health and wellness while mitigating the professions stressors. Methods: From April 2015 to July 2017, forty-three wellness champions from Canada, the USA, and Australia were identified using a snowball sampling technique. Each participant answered 5 introductory questions and 8 productivity questions pertaining to health and wellness. These were transcribed and loaded to a publicly accessible blog, ALiEM.com, as part of the Healthy in EM series. Two investigators reviewed the transcripts using inductive methods and a grounded theory approach to generate themes and subthemes using coding software, NVivo (Burlington, Massachusetts), until saturation was achieved. Consensus between investigators (JC, ZP) established the master code and audit trail. An external audit by investigators (TC, BT) not involved with the initial analysis was performed to ensure reliability. Results: Major themes including diet, sleep, exercise and social activities were coded and further subcategorized along with perspectives, habits, personal philosophies, and career diversity. These themes translated across both professional and personal aspects of participants lives. For example, the pre-shift and post-shift strategies often included some form of regimented activities-of-daily-living that required discipline to adhere to at work and home. Conclusion: Our findings show the importance of homeostasis in the professional and personal realm among expert emergency medicine physicians. Among healthy emergency physicians, diet, sleep, and exercise patterns intertwined with perspectives, habits, personal philosophies, and social activities contributed to maintenance of wellness.

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