University of Washington School of Public Health

UW SPH News: Paper wins inaugural Stanford Medicine WellMD Center award

Paper wins inaugural Stanford Medicine WellMD Center award


A paper by Christian Helfrich, from the University of Washington School of Public Health, received the Stanford Medicine WellMD Center’s inaugural Physician Well-being Article Award. The paper reports on the association of staffing and workload with odds of burnout among primary health care providers for veterans.

Christian Helfrich photo
Christian Helfrich

“The study was novel in that we were able to link provider-specific workload and staffing measures to their odds of burnout,” said Helfrich, a research associate professor of health services at the School and research investigator for the Seattle-Denver Center of Innovation for Veteran-Centered and Value-Driven Care, Veterans Affairs (VA) Puget Sound Health Care System. “The differences in odds were pretty profound.”

Of the 4,610 personnel from VA clinics studied, 41 percent experienced burnout. Study results also showed that burnout was 30 percent lower for providers who worked on fully staffed teams with no turnover and who cared for a panel of patients within their capacity.

Created in late 2015, the Stanford Medicine WellMD Center has worked to improve the health of physicians and that of their patients, students and other members of medical teams they lead. The Physician Well-being Article Award is one of two awards in physician wellness (the other being the Innovation and Leadership in Physician Well-being Award) announced by the center this year.

The awards were presented at the First American Conference on Physician Health in San Francisco in October. The winning paper was co-authored by UW’s Stephan Fihm and Karin Nelson; the University of Colorado’s
Joseph Simonetti; the VA’s Walter Clinton, Gordon Wood, Leslie Taylor, Gordon Schectman and Richard Stark; and Lisa Rubenstein, from the University of California, Los Angeles School of Medicine.