Coaching for Primary Care Physicians: A Positive Psychology Approach for Improving Well-being and Reducing Burnout and Intentions to Leave Medical Practice

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Coaching for Primary Care Physicians: A Positive Psychology Approach for Improving Well-being and Reducing Burnout and Intentions to Leave Medical Practice
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Exectutive Summary: Primary Care Physicians (PCPs) are increasingly recognized as vulnerable to burnout and wanting to leave medical practice. We conducted a randomized, controlled trial of a positive psychology-based coaching intervention to improve PCP well-being and intentions to remain in medical practice and decrease levels of stress and burnout. Fifty-nine PCPs were randomized into a primary coaching group (n = 29) or a control group (n = 30), which was waitlisted for six months. The intervention included six coaching sessions, delivered by one of five study coaches, over three months. For the primary coaching group, outcome measures were assessed pre-intervention, post-intervention, 3 months post-intervention and 6 months post-intervention. The waitlisted control group completed two additional measurement surveys: one at 6 months pre-intervention another at 3 months pre-intervention. Results indicated significant alleviation of burnout and improvement in work engagement, psychological capital, and job satisfaction for the primary group from baseline to post-coaching when compared to the comparable time points for the waitlisted control group. These positive changes were sustained during the six-month follow-up period. When examining pre-post changes for participants who completed coaching and follow-up assessments in both groups combined (n= 39), improvements were also observed in turnover intentions, job stress and job self-efficacy. These improvements were sustained at follow-up for job stress and job self-efficacy but not for turnover intentions. Interestingly, no improvements in compassion levels were observed during the pre-post assessment, but significant improvements were observed later during the follow-up period. Results indicate that coaching is a viable and effective intervention for PCPs in terms of alleviating burnout and improving well-being. 

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