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Spouses and Domestic Partners of Residents are Effective Detectors of Burnout
Andrew C. Esposito1, Erin M. White1, Stefanie C. Rohde2, Nathan Coppersmith1, Kristin Oliveira1, Walter Longo1, Peter Yoo1, Daniel Solomon1
1Department of Surgery, Yale-New Haven Hospital, New Haven, Connecticut, United States, 2Yale School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut, United States

Objective: Determine if the spouse or domestic partner (partner) of a resident can detect resident burnout

Design: The complete Maslach Burnout Inventory (MBI) and 6 questions concerning general health and alcohol use were distributed via electronic survey to residents and partners. McNemar"s test was used to compare burnout rates and spearman correlations were used to determine reliability of proxy estimates.

Setting: Single university-affiliated hospital

Participants: Residents and Partners in 24 ACGME residencies.

Outcomes: Correlation between residents" burnout and predicted burnout by partners. Burnout was defined as scoring high in 1 of 3 domains: emotional exhaustion (exhaustion), depersonalization, or personal accomplishment (accomplishment).


The response rates were 32% (278/882) for residents and 44% (49/112) for partners. The correlation between resident and partners responses for residents" health was ?=0.346 (NS), resident"s experience in residency was ?=0.605 (p<0.01), frequency residents" job interfered with personal life was ?=0.571 (<0.01), residents" alcohol use in the past year was ?=0.708 (p<0.01), number of drinks the resident drank in a day was ?=0.429 (<0.01), and frequency the resident drank 6+ drinks on one occasion was ?=0.595 (<0.01). The was no difference in reported burnout rate by each group, 70% for residents and 59% for Partners (p=0.80). The correlation between residents and partners" responses for exhaustion was ?=0.557 (p=<0.01), depersonalization was ?=0.498 (p=<0.01), and accomplishment was ?=0.416 (p<0.01). Partners had a 79% sensitivity, 60% specificity, and 74% positive predictive value in detecting resident burnout.


Partners" responses across the domains of health, alcohol use, and burnout were moderately to highly correlated with resident responses. Partners are effective detectors of resident burnout. Targeted education at partners may improve the identification of resident burnout.

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