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Physician health in spotlight thanks to four new research projects

Support for physicians' mental health and wellness received a boost recently when the Canadian Physician Health Institute (CPHI) awarded funding to support four research projects in different parts of the country.

"These are wise investments," said CMA President Anna Reid. "Healthy physicians are a key component of a strong and sustainable health care system."

The CPHI, which was launched last year by the CMA and Canadian Medical Foundation (CMF), focuses on promoting physician mental health and wellness at the national level while working closely with provincial and territorial physician health programs.

The Special Projects Fund that made the projects possible was created with support from the CMF. Foundation CEO Lee Gould said the winning projects represent many aspects of the work that needs to be done to support physician health. "The institute's role is to bring together the many organizations that support physicians to help them connect, share information and build knowledge," he said. "These projects are an exciting beginning to this work."

The winning projects are:

  • the phone-line crisis program offered by the Newfoundland and Labrador Medical Association will expand to include health promotion and illness prevention services;
  • a continuing education program for physicians and case managers who work within physician health programs will be created and piloted by the Quebec Physicians' Health Program;
  • A team from McMaster University will evaluate the effect peer-support groups have on the resilience of anesthesia residents;
  • University of Saskatchewan researchers will examine "how mindfulness in medical practice drop-in classes" can help medical students build resilience and cope with the stress that can lead to burnout.

Dr. Derek Puddester, the CMA's director of physician health, said the projects mark an important development. "The funding announced today is a key step toward keeping physicians healthy and resilient," he said.

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