Physician wellness: A challenging search

Issue: BCMJ, vol. 56, No. 3, April 2014, Page 145 College Library

At a recent Finding Medical Evidence session presented by College librarians, a doctor mentioned that it is difficult to search for articles on physician wellness. Using the Medline database through the College’s website (, a search for the phrase physician wellness returns only 17 results. This phrase doesn’t map to a MeSH term—that is, Medline has not designated an official term for this concept.

There is an official term for physicians, which can be modified with the subheading psychology, producing many articles of interest. However, wellness is not just about psychological distress. To broaden the search, try combining the physicians topic with terms such as occupational exposureoccupational diseases, or radiation injuries. There is also a term for infectious disease transmissionpatient-to-professional. One can look on the bright side with terms such as resiliencepsychologicalhealth promotion, or personal satisfaction.

If you are searching for articles on stress, you can go beyond the term stresspsychological. Additional terms include burnoutprofessionalwork schedule tolerance; and fatigue.

If you encounter any other challenging searches, College registrants are welcome to ask the library for assistance. We can make recommendations and help you develop an effective search strategy. 

Here are a few recent articles available online or by request from the library:
•    Dyrbye LN, Varkey P, Boone SL, et al. Physician satisfaction and burnout at different career stages. Mayo Clin Proc 2013;88:1358-1367.
•    Goetz K, Musselmann B, Szecsenyi J, et al. The influence of workload and health behavior on job satisfaction of general practitioners. Fam Med 2013;45:95-101.
•    Zwack J, Schweitzer J. If every fifth physician is affected by burnout, what about the other four? Resilience strategies of experienced physicians. Acad Med 2013;88:382-389.
—Niki Baumann


This article is the opinion of the Library of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of BC and has not been peer reviewed by the BCMJ Editorial Board.

Niki Baumann. Physician wellness: A challenging search. BCMJ, Vol. 56, No. 3, April, 2014, Page(s) 145 - College Library.

Above is the information needed to cite this article in your paper or presentation. The International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE) recommends the following citation style, which is the now nearly universally accepted citation style for scientific papers:
Halpern SD, Ubel PA, Caplan AL, Marion DW, Palmer AM, Schiding JK, et al. Solid-organ transplantation in HIV-infected patients. N Engl J Med. 2002;347:284-7.

About the ICMJE and citation styles

The ICMJE is small group of editors of general medical journals who first met informally in Vancouver, British Columbia, in 1978 to establish guidelines for the format of manuscripts submitted to their journals. The group became known as the Vancouver Group. Its requirements for manuscripts, including formats for bibliographic references developed by the U.S. National Library of Medicine (NLM), were first published in 1979. The Vancouver Group expanded and evolved into the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE), which meets annually. The ICMJE created the Recommendations for the Conduct, Reporting, Editing, and Publication of Scholarly Work in Medical Journals to help authors and editors create and distribute accurate, clear, easily accessible reports of biomedical studies.

An alternate version of ICMJE style is to additionally list the month an issue number, but since most journals use continuous pagination, the shorter form provides sufficient information to locate the reference. The NLM now lists all authors.

BCMJ standard citation style is a slight modification of the ICMJE/NLM style, as follows:

  • Only the first three authors are listed, followed by "et al."
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For more information on the ICMJE Recommendations for the Conduct, Reporting, Editing, and Publication of Scholarly Work in Medical Journals, visit

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