Aim & background


DESTRESS stands for DEcrease STress through RESilience training for Students. This study is being carried out by Erasmus University Medical Centre Rotterdam among all students (Bachelor, Master, Doctoral, PhD) in fields related to health care, public health, medicine, psychology and life sicences at, or affiliated with, the Erasmus University Rotterdam.

Recently there has been a lot of attention for stress among students due to the results of several surveys. The results show that symptoms of chronic stress and burnout are highly prevalent among students in healthcare related fields. With the DESTRESS study we want to assess whether the introduction of resilience training reduces the perceived chronic stress among students and prevents burnout. With the training we hope that students develop resilience skills that will be helpful to them in the future in whatever career they choose.

Participants will receive emails to fill in online questionnaires, and receive psychoeducation about chronic stress and the prevention of burnout. Furthermore, selected participants will follow different programs to acquire stress management skills. Each program has a duration of 8 or 9 weeks, will take place in or around the Erasmus Medical Centre in Rotterdam, and is offered free of charge.

The Medical Research Ethics Committee of the Erasmus Medical Centre has reviewed this study. General information about the assessment of research can be found in the general brochure on medical research. The results of the study will be analysed and reported in scientific publications to be submitted to peer-reviewed journals.

Read more about the study here.


Chronic stress and burnout are increasing among healthcare professionals, and can negatively impact the health and well-being of these professionals. Close to 50% of physicians in Europe and the US have at least one symptom of burnout (1,2). Even among healthcare trainees chronic stress and burnout are prevalent, and can negatively influence the future skills as a healthcare professional of these trainees. According to two surveys, 16.2% of Dutch medical interns and 21% of residents show signs of burnout (2,3).

In order to improve their health and well-being, and in order to stimulate the development of becoming a healthy and happy healthcare professional, we introduce resilience training to students in the healthcare professions. Teaching students stress management skills during their training helps them meet the demands of their studies, increases their resilience, and will help them in the future in their career.  

Previous research has shown that discussion groups, stress management courses, mindfulness-based programs, physical activity, running and life-balance activities are effective in reducing perceived stress (4-6). The programs of this study are based on those different activities and programs.

1. Shanafelt TD, Boone S, Tan L, Dyrbye LN, Sotile W, Satele D, et al. Burnout and satisfaction with work-life balance among US physicians relative to the general US population. Arch Intern Med. 2012;172(18):1377-85.
2. Prins JT, Hoekstra-Weebers JE, Gazendam-Donofrio SM, Dillingh GS, Bakker AB, Huisman M, et al. Burnout and engagement among resident doctors in the Netherlands: a national study. Med Educ. 2010;44(3):236-47.
3. Kemmeren M. Onderzoeksrapport 2017, Burn-out. In: Geneeskundestudent D, editor. 2017.
4. Panagioti M, Panagopoulou E, Bower P, Lewith G, Kontopantelis E, Chew-Graham C, et al. Controlled Interventions to Reduce Burnout in Physicians: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. JAMA Intern Med. 2017;177(2):195-205.
5. West CP, Dyrbye LN, Erwin PJ, Shanafelt TD. Interventions to prevent and reduce physician burnout: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Lancet. 2016;388(10057):2272-81.
6. Vries Jd. Exercise as intervention to reduce burnout: Radboud University Nijmegen;2017.