A Qualitative Study of Factors Affecting Morale in Psychiatry Residency Training

Rachel A. Caravella, Lee A. Robinson, Ilene Wilets, Michael Weinberg, Deborah L. Cabaniss, Janis L. Cutler, Carisa Kymissis, Melissa R. Arbuckle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: Resident morale is an important yet poorly understood aspect of the residency training experience. Despite implications for program quality, resident satisfaction, patient care, and recruitment, little is known about the variables influencing this complex phenomenon. This study sought to identify important factors affecting morale in psychiatry residency training. Methods: The authors conducted four semi-structured focus groups at a moderately sized, urban, psychiatry residency program during the 2013-2014 academic year. They used qualitative data analysis techniques, including grounded theory and content analysis, to identify key themes affecting resident morale across training levels. Results: Twenty-seven residents participated in the focus groups with equal distribution across post-graduate years (PGY) 1-4. Five major conceptual categories affecting resident morale emerged: Sense of Community, Individual Motivators, Clinical Work, Feeling Cared For, and Trust in the Administration. Conclusions: Morale is an important topic in residency education. The qualitative results suggest that factors related to a Sense of Community and Individual Motivators generally enhanced resident morale whereas factors related to a lack of Feeling Cared For and Trust in the Administration tended to contribute to lower morale. The authors describe the possible interventions to promote stronger program morale suggested by these findings.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)776-782
Number of pages7
JournalAcademic Psychiatry
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1 Oct 2016
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 Academic Psychiatry.


  • Groups
  • Internship and residency
  • Morale
  • Resident wellness
  • Resident's professional development
  • Residents

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Education


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