Emotional Intelligence as a Predictor of Resident Well-Being

Dana T. Lin, Cara A. Liebert, Jennifer Tran, James N. Lau, Arghavan Salles

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

78 Scopus citations


Background There is increasing recognition that physician wellness is critical; it not only benefits the provider, but also influences quality and patient care outcomes. Despite this, resident physicians suffer from a high rate of burnout and personal distress. Individuals with higher emotional intelligence (EI) are thought to perceive, process, and regulate emotions more effectively, which can lead to enhanced well-being and less emotional disturbance. This study sought to understand the relationship between EI and wellness among surgical residents. Study Design Residents in a single general surgery residency program were surveyed on a voluntary basis. Emotional intelligence was measured using the Trait Emotional Intelligence Questionnaire-Short Form. Resident wellness was assessed with the Dupuy Psychological General Well-Being Index, Maslach Burnout Inventory, and Beck Depression Inventory-Short Form. Emotional intelligence and wellness parameters were correlated using Pearson coefficients. Multivariate analysis was performed to identify factors predictive of well-being. Results Seventy-three residents participated in the survey (response rate 63%). Emotional intelligence scores correlated positively with psychological well-being (r = 0.74; p < 0.001) and inversely with depression (r = −0.69, p < 0.001) and 2 burnout parameters, emotional exhaustion (r = −0.69; p < 0.001) and depersonalization (r = −0.59; p < 0.001). In regression analyses controlling for demographic factors such as sex, age, and relationship status, EI was strongly predictive of well-being (β = 0.76; p < 0.001), emotional exhaustion (β = −0.63; p < 0.001), depersonalization (β = −0.48; p = 0.002), and depression (β = −0.60; p < 0.001). Conclusions Emotional intelligence is a strong predictor of resident well-being. Prospectively measuring EI can identify those who are most likely to thrive in surgical residency. Interventions to increase EI can be effective at optimizing the wellness of residents.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)352-358
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of the American College of Surgeons
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 1 2016


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