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Resilience Programme

Enhancing Resilience and Wellbeing in GP trainees: a new approach to developing mindful practice

A unique programme aimed at supporting resilience, wellbeing and patient-centered care, specifically developed to meet the needs of GP trainees, and to help prepare them with the reflective skills that are relevant to a fulfilling career in general practice.

  • 6 x 1 hour sessions, running on teaching days between 12:30 and 13:30.
  • Session themes included professionalism, how doctors think, witnessing suffering, medical errors, well-being and burnout, communication breakdown, and handling conflict compassionately.
  • Guided mindfulness practice as well as other exercises were covered, including keeping a mindfulness diary to record experiences and prompt reflection.
  • The programme was evaluated by the Unit of Academic Primary Care at Warwick Medical School. You will be asked to complete questionnaires to assess your wellbeing and resilience.

The programme ran in February and March 2019.


Background Trainee GPs are at risk of developing burnout as a result of high stress levels. Improving resilience may prevent the negative effects of stress on wellbeing, morale, and patient care, thereby supporting recruitment to general practice.

Aim To explore experiences of stress and burnout among GP trainees, and their level of interest in undertaking a mindfulness programme.

Design & setting A qualitative study was performed with a cohort of GP trainees in Coventry and Warwickshire.

Method This mixed-methods study utilised a survey with validated measures to investigate the prevalence of burnout, state of wellbeing, and resilience in GP trainees. Focus groups were also used to explore experiences of stress and burnout, and perceptions of mindfulness practice.

Results In total, 47 (response rate 39%) trainees completed the survey and 14 participated in focus groups. There was a high prevalence of disengagement (n = 36; 80%) and emotional exhaustion (n = 35; 77%), with 29 (64%) scoring above the cut-off value for both. While 16 (34%) reported already practising mindfulness, 39 (83%) described interest in engaging in mindfulness practice. The focus groups identified a range of issues relating to how trainees recognise stress and burnout, their help-seeking and coping strategies, the perceived barriers to practising self-care, and motivations for participating in mindfulness training.

Conclusion This study confirms the degree of stress and burnout that GP trainees experience, and their desire for greater wellbeing and resilience support. It identified a high level of interest in attending a mindfulness programme, but also barriers to engagement. Results of this research shaped the Mindful Practice Curriculum programme, which was later provided to this cohort of trainees.

Please direct enquiries about this project to:

Dr Petra Hanson

drpetrahanson at gmail dot com

Dr Manuel Villarreal

mvillarreal at nhs dot net

Burnout, resilience, and perception of mindfulness programmes among GP trainees: a mixed-methods study
Petra Hanson, Amy Clarke, Manuel Villarreal, Majid Khan, Jeremy Dale