The impact of a smartphone meditation application on anesthesia trainee well-being

Philip C. Carullo, Elizabeth A. Ungerman, David G. Metro, Phillip S. Adams

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Study objective: Physician burnout is a pervasive problem in the United States. The goal of this study was to investigate use of the smartphone meditation application Headspace® as a well-being improvement tool in anesthesia trainees. Design: Prospective self-controlled observational study. Setting: Anesthesia training program in an academic hospital. Subjects: Resident and fellow trainees in the Department of Anesthesiology and Perioperative Medicine at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. Interventions: Resident and fellow trainees were given a free 1-year subscription to the mindfulness application. Participation was voluntary and included questionnaires at baseline, 1 month, and 4 months for assessment of burnout and well-being. Questionnaires were linked with the use of de-identified codes and completed via REDCap. Questionnaires included the abbreviated Maslach Burnout Inventory, Becks Depression Index, Cohens Stress Score, Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index, and a Headspace® Self-Reporting Questionnaire. Measurements: Depression, stress, sleep quality, emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, and personal achievement. Main results: Of 112 trainees eligible to participate, 71 completed baseline questionnaires, 54 created application accounts, and 29 completed the entire questionnaire protocol with 4 months of app use. Application use was associated with reduced depression scores and increased feelings of personal achievement at both 1 month (p = 0.003, p = 0.066) and 4 months (p = 0.011, p = 0.005). Burnout from feelings of depersonalization and emotional exhaustion did not improve with application use. Over the study period, trainees completed 786 meditation sessions, accounting for 6123 min of app engagement. Conclusions: Findings of decreased depression scores and improved feelings of personal achievement suggest that Headspace® could serve as a mindfulness tool for incorporating meditation into the daily practice of anesthesia trainees in an effort to improve well-being.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number110525
JournalJournal of Clinical Anesthesia
StatePublished - Dec 2021


  • Anesthesia education
  • Graduate medical education
  • Meditation
  • Mindfulness
  • Trainee
  • Wellness

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine


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