247 Identifying Factors that Contribute to Joy and Gratitude for Emergency Medicine Healthcare Workers Amidst the COVID-19 Pandemic

American English
Embargo Lift Date
Committee Members
Degree Year
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
Found At

Study Objective: During COVID-19, emergency medicine (EM) providers have labored to protect the health of their patients, often at the expense of their own well-being. Increased demands imposed on providers without intentional efforts to evaluate and improve wellness can lead to burnout, attrition, and compromise patient care. Practices that promote mindfulness, reflection and gratitude have been shown to reduce burnout. The Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI) Framework for Improving Joy In Work provides an approach to restore joy and engagement by first identifying elements that "matter most” to healthcare workers. The objective of this study was to identify common themes and associations that contribute to EM provider and staff (1) joy in work, (2) gratitude, and (3) personal wellness.

Methods: This descriptive study used an electronic survey tool with open-ended questions adapted from the IHI framework to assess what matters most. Q1: What brings you joy in your work? Q2: Thinking back to what matters most, what are you grateful for? Q3: What do you do to maintain your personal wellness? In Nov. 2020, email listservs were used to recruit a voluntary sample of emergency physicians, advanced practice providers (APPs), residents, fellows, nurses and staff from 10 academic and community hospitals. Data were managed in Qualtrics and Excel. Qualitative analysis used inductive thematic coding by two authors independently, with verification by a third. Information redundancy signaled saturation for common themes. Pivot tables examined themes across demographics, and associations were analyzed with 2x2 contingency tables using chi-square, Fisher’s exact tests, and odds ratios (95% CI).

Results: Of 254 respondents, 63% were female and 89% identified as White. Roles were 32% physicians, 8% APPs, 16% residents/fellows, and 44% nurses/staff. Response rates were 39-54% for providers. Common themes for joy in work were patient care (47%) and teamwork/camaraderie (43%), followed by feeling valued/appreciated (13%), making a difference (13%), and teaching/mentoring (9%). EM providers at academic sites were more likely to find joy in teaching/mentoring than those in the community (p=0.01; OR 10.5, 95% CI 1.3-82.6). For gratitude, themes were teamwork/ camaraderie (13%), family (12%), health (7%), and supportive work environment (7%). Themes for maintaining personal wellness were physical exercise (46%), time with family and friends (32%), hobbies (15%), and self-care (13%).

Conclusions: Results of this study reveal common themes for EM providers and staff surrounding joy, gratitude, and wellness. By identifying elements that matter most, systems can take the next steps in the IHI framework to support and rejuvenate their healthcare team. Implications from our findings suggest that practices and future research to remove barriers and encourage meaningful provider-patient interactions, team camaraderie, teaching/mentoring, physical activity, and time with family/friends could increase joy and fulfillment for frontline healthcare workers.

This article is made available for unrestricted research re-use and secondary analysis in any form or be any means with acknowledgement of the original source. These permissions are granted for the duration of the World Health Organization (WHO) declaration of COVID-19 as a global pandemic.
Cite As
Kelker H, Cushman E, Munson C, et al. 247 Identifying Factors that Contribute to Joy and Gratitude for Emergency Medicine Healthcare Workers Amidst the COVID-19 Pandemic. Ann Emerg Med. 2021;78(4):S100. doi:10.1016/j.annemergmed.2021.09.259
Annals of Emergency Medicine
Public Health Emergency
Alternative Title
Conference Dates
Conference Host
Conference Location
Conference Name
Conference Panel
Conference Secretariat Location
Final published version
Full Text Available at
This item is under embargo {{howLong}}