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BACKGROUND: Depression and burnout are highly prevalent among residents, but little is known about modifiable personality variables, such as resilience and stress from uncertainty, that may predispose to these conditions. Residents are routinely faced with uncertainty when making medical decisions. OBJECTIVE: To determine how stress from uncertainty is related to resilience among pediatric residents and whether these attributes are associated with depression and burnout. METHODS: We surveyed 86 residents in pediatric residency programs from 4 urban freestanding children's hospitals in North America in 2015. Stress from uncertainty was measured with the use of the Physicians' Reaction to Uncertainty Scale, resilience with the use of the 14-item Resilience Scale, depression with the use of the Harvard National Depression Screening Scale; and burnout with the use of single-item measures of emotional exhaustion and depersonalization from the Maslach Burnout Inventory. RESULTS: Fifty out of 86 residents responded to the survey (58.1%). Higher levels of stress from uncertainty correlated with lower resilience (r = -0.60; P < .001). Five residents (10%) met depression criteria and 15 residents (31%) met burnout criteria. Depressed residents had higher mean levels of stress due to uncertainty (51.6 ± 9.1 vs 38.7 ± 6.7; P < .001) and lower mean levels of resilience (56.6 ± 10.7 vs 85.4 ± 8.0; P < .001) compared with residents who were not depressed. Burned out residents also had higher mean levels of stress due to uncertainty (44.0 ± 8.5 vs 38.3 ± 7.1; P = .02) and lower mean levels of resilience (76.7 ± 14.8 vs 85.0 ± 9.77; P = .02) compared with residents who were not burned out. CONCLUSIONS: We found high levels of stress from uncertainty, and low levels of resilience were strongly correlated with depression and burnout. Efforts to enhance tolerance of uncertainty and resilience among residents may provide opportunities to mitigate resident depression and burnout.

Original publication




Journal article


Acad Pediatr

Publication Date





698 - 704


burnout, depression, graduate medical education, resilience, uncertainty