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Factors associated with psychological distress in emergency medicine residents: findings from a single-center study

  • Tareq A. Al-Salamah1,2,*,
  • Fathima F. Farook3
  • AbdulAziz AlKanhal4
  • Amer Almutairi1
  • Mohammad AlGhofili1
  • AbdulRahman Banaeem1

1Department of Emergency Medicine, King Saud University, 11472 Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

2Department of Emergency Medicine, University of Maryland School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD 21201, USA

3Department of Preventive Dental Science, College of Dentistry, King Saud Bin Abdulaziz University for Health Sciences and King Abdullah International Medical Research Center, 11481 Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

4Department of Surgery, King Saud University, 11472 Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

DOI: 10.22514/sv.2024.060 Vol.20,Issue 5,May 2024 pp.85-93

Submitted: 22 November 2023 Accepted: 16 January 2024

Published: 08 May 2024

*Corresponding Author(s): Tareq A. Al-Salamah E-mail:


Emergency medicine (EM) residents face significant levels of psychological stress from work and non-work-related factors which can impact their well-being. The objective of this study was to determine the factors that may worsen or mitigate the prevalence of psychological distress among EM residents in a university-based tertiary medical center. Over a 3-month period, after an EM block, residents completed a survey on their demographics, work-related factors, and the Kessler-10 psychological distress scale. Fisher’s exact and Pearson correlation coefficient were used to determine statistical significance. Significant variables were then analyzed using ordinal and multiple linear regression to determine predictor variables. The study enrolled 38 participants, with an average age of 27 ± 1.5 years and a male preponderance. 44.74% had varying degrees of psychological distress, with females more likely experiencing severe distress. Participants who reported curtailing their daily activities more frequently were found to have a 1.58 times higher likelihood of severe psychological distress. Participants remaining after end-of-shift to complete tasks and those experiencing more negative interactions with colleagues had significantly higher levels of distress. We found a high prevalence of varying degrees of psychological distress among emergency medicine residents with almost one fifth in our study population having a high likelihood of severe distress. Female gender and work-related problems that lead to a reduction in normal daily activities seem to correlate with the severity of psychological distress in EM residents. However, future research would need to account for a wider range of institutional, social and societal factors that may contribute to residents’ likelihood of psychological distress. Nonetheless, it is essential for residents, mentors of residents, and residency program directors and personnel to understand reasons behind these factors, i.e., negative interactions with colleagues and increased workload and to strategize early identification and mitigation techniques to promote resident wellness.


Emergency medicine residents; Burnout; Psychological distress; Kessler-10

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Tareq A. Al-Salamah,Fathima F. Farook,AbdulAziz AlKanhal,Amer Almutairi,Mohammad AlGhofili,AbdulRahman Banaeem. Factors associated with psychological distress in emergency medicine residents: findings from a single-center study. Signa Vitae. 2024. 20(5);85-93.


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