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Vol. 68, No. 1, 2005
Issue release date: April 2005
Oncology 2005;68:23–32

The Well-Being and Personal Wellness Promotion Strategies of Medical Oncologists in the North Central Cancer Treatment Group

Shanafelt T.D. · Novotny P. · Johnson M.E. · Zhao X. · Steensma D.P. · Lacy M.Q. · Rubin J. · Sloan J.
aDepartment of Oncology, bDivision of Hematology, cDepartment of Internal Medicine, dChaplain Services, eCancer Center Statistics, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn., USA

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Purpose: The well-being of oncologists is important to the well-being of their patients. While much is known about oncologist distress, little is known about oncologist well-being. We set out to evaluate oncologist well-being and the personal wellness promotion strategies used by oncologists. Patients and Methods: We performed a cross-sectional survey of medical oncologists in the North Central Cancer Treatment Group using a validated instrument to measure quality of life. Study-specific questions explored stressors, wellness promotion strategies and career satisfaction. Results: Of 241 responding oncologists (response rate 61%), 121 (50%) reported high overall well-being. Being age 50 or younger (57 vs. 41%; p = 0.01), male (53 vs. 31%; p = 0.01) and working 60 h or less per week (50 vs. 33%; p = 0.005) were associated with increased overall well-being on bivariate analysis. Ratings of the importance of a number of personal wellness promotion strategies differed for oncologists with high well-being compared with those without high well-being. Developing an approach/philosophy to dealing with death and end-of-life care, using recreation/hobbies/exercise, taking a positive outlook and incorporating a philosophy of balance between personal and professional life were all rated as substantially more important wellness strategies by oncologists with high well-being (p values <0.001). Oncologists with high overall well-being also reported greater career satisfaction. Conclusion: Half of medical oncologists experience high overall well-being. Use of specific personal wellness promotion strategies appears to be associated with oncologist well-being. Further investigations of the prevalence, promotion, causes, inequities and clinical impact of physician well-being are needed.

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