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Religion, Spirituality, and Depressive Symptoms in Primary Care House Officers

  • Michael S. Yi
    Correspondence
    Address correspondence to Michael S. Yi, MD, MSc, University of Cincinnati Medical Center, Division of General Internal Medicine, Section of Outcomes Research, PO Box 670535, Cincinnati, OH 45267-0535
    Affiliations
    Division of General Internal Medicine, Department of Internal Medicine, University of Cincinnati Medical Center, Cincinnati, Ohio

    Institute for the Study of Health, University of Cincinnati Medical Center, Cincinnati, Ohio

    Department of Pediatrics, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, Cincinnati, Ohio
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  • Sara E. Luckhaupt
    Affiliations
    Institute for the Study of Health, University of Cincinnati Medical Center, Cincinnati, Ohio
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  • Joseph M. Mrus
    Affiliations
    Division of General Internal Medicine, Department of Internal Medicine, University of Cincinnati Medical Center, Cincinnati, Ohio

    Institute for the Study of Health, University of Cincinnati Medical Center, Cincinnati, Ohio

    Department of Pediatrics, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, Cincinnati, Ohio

    HSR&D Service, Cincinnati Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Cincinnati, Ohio
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  • Caroline V. Mueller
    Affiliations
    Division of General Internal Medicine, Department of Internal Medicine, University of Cincinnati Medical Center, Cincinnati, Ohio

    Department of Pediatrics, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, Cincinnati, Ohio
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  • Amy H. Peterman
    Affiliations
    Center on Outcomes, Research and Education, Evanston Northwestern Healthcare, Evanston, IL
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  • Christina M. Puchalski
    Affiliations
    Department of Medicine, George Washington University Medical Center, Washington, DC

    George Washington Institute for Spirituality and Health, Washington, DC
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  • Joel Tsevat
    Affiliations
    Division of General Internal Medicine, Department of Internal Medicine, University of Cincinnati Medical Center, Cincinnati, Ohio

    Institute for the Study of Health, University of Cincinnati Medical Center, Cincinnati, Ohio

    HSR&D Service, Cincinnati Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Cincinnati, Ohio
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      Objective

      The arduous nature of residency training places house officers at risk for depression. We sought to determine the prevalence of depressive symptoms in pediatric (PED), internal medicine (IM), family medicine (FM), and combined internal medicine-pediatric (IMPED) house staff, and spiritual/religious factors that are associated with prevalence of depressive symptoms.

      Methods

      PED, IM, FM, and IMPED residents at a major teaching program were asked to complete a questionnaire during their In-Training Examination. Depressive symptoms were measured with the 10-item Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale. Independent variables included demographics, residency program type, postgraduate level, current rotation, health status, religious affiliation, religiosity, religious coping, and spirituality.

      Results

      We collected data from 227 subjects. Their mean (SD) age was 28.7 (3.8) years; 131 (58%) were women; 167 (74%) were white; and 112 (49%) were PED, 62 (27%) were IM, 27 (12%) were FM, and 26 (12%) were IMPED residents. Fifty-seven house officers (25%) met the criteria for having significant depressive symptoms. Having depressive symptoms was significantly associated (P< .05) with residency program type, inpatient rotation status, poorer health status, poorer religious coping, and worse spiritual well-being. In multivariable analyses, having significant depressive symptoms was associated with program type, poorer religious coping, greater spiritual support seeking, and worse spiritual well-being.

      Conclusions

      Depressive symptoms are prevalent among house officers and are associated with certain residency program types and with residents’ spiritual and religious characteristics. Identifying residents with depressive symptoms and potentially attending to their spiritual needs may improve their well-being.

      Key words

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