psychological well-being; positive psychology; professional burnout; graduate medical education; internship and residency; residents; engagement; depression; wellness


Industrial and Organizational Psychology | Medical Education | Organization Development | Psychology | Social and Behavioral Sciences



Many studies have documented the epidemic of mental ill-being among resident physicians, but fewer have focused on mental well-being or on guiding intervention design to make progress toward positive change in residency programs to support resident thriving. Informed by the job demands-resources model (JD-R) and positive psychology, the current study examines 4 potential predictors of residents’ ill-being (burnout, depression) and well-being (engagement, stay intent) that are malleable and thus capable of change through intervention: psychological capital (PsyCap), supervising physicians’ autonomy-supportive leadership style (ASL), social support, and meaningful work.


Three waves of data were collected between November 2017 and September 2018 at a large hospital system in the United States. Due to participant response rates, we were unable to conduct a planned longitudinal analysis. Therefore, for each wave, Bayesian regression analyses were used to examine cross-sectional relationships between the 4 predictors and each outcome.


Although findings varied across the study’s 3 waves, the outcomes were largely as expected. With only 1 exception (depressive symptoms in Wave 2), meaningful work significantly predicted all outcome variables in the expected direction across all 3 waves. PsyCap significantly predicted burnout, depressive symptoms, and engagement in the expected direction across all 3 waves. ASL significantly predicted engagement in the expected direction across all 3 waves, as well as depressive symptoms and stay intent in 2 waves, and burnout in 1 wave. Social support significantly negatively predicted depressive symptoms in all 3 waves and burnout in 1 wave.


Applying the JD-R framework and a positive psychology lens can open new pathways for developing programming to support resident thriving. Meaningful work, PsyCap, ASL, and social support all significantly predicted 1 or more outcomes related to resident thriving (burnout, depression, engagement, stay intent) across all 3 waves. Thus, this study provides theoretical and practical implications for future intervention studies and designing current programming for resident thriving.