WHOOP Fitness tracker to assist in the study of burnout rates in ENT physicians

low recovery on WHOOP

The Wake Forest University’s Health Sciences team is launching a new study that will use the WHOOP fitness tracker to study the impact of burnout rates in both attending and resident ENT( Ear-nose-throat) specialists.

This study uses the WHOOP fitness tracker for its accurate HRV (Heart rate variability) tracking capabilities.


Physician burnout study details

Participants in this study will take two Maslach burnout inventory (MBI) surveys before starting the program to set a baseline burnout score and then at 3 months and 6 months into the study.

The Maslach burnout inventory survey is a gold standard survey for measuring burnout in individuals who work with people (human services and medical professionals). It’s basically a 22 item survey covering three key areas: Emotional Exhaustion, Depersonalization, and a low sense of personal accomplishment.

Participants randomized to the WHOOP group will be given WHOOP wrist and armbands to wear 24/7 after an orientation on their use.

Heart rate variability is an important metric for correlation with acute stress.

Heart rate variability (HRV) increases during relaxing and recovering activities and decreases during stress. Accordingly, HRV is typically higher when the heart beats slowly and decreases as the heart beats more quickly.

Previous research has demonstrated that HR and HRV are validated measures quantifying physiologic stress. A similar study was completed and published late last year that examined the effects of stress on emergency medicine staff at the University of Pittsburg, School of Medicine.

The most common way for researchers is to use the standard deviation of all normal to normal R-R intervals( SDNN) measured in milliseconds (msec) to access HR variability.

WHOOP uses the RSMDD, which provides a good snapshot of the Autonomic Nervous System’s Parasympathetic branch and is the basis of their HRV score.

Another new and interesting study leveraged a brain interface and WHOOP to monitor the connection between sleep and impulse control.

Bryan Johnson’s team at Kernel used their novel brain interface and WHOOP to study the impact of sleep and impulse control and found that more deep sleep improves impulse control.


  1. Kim HG, Cheon EJ, Bai DS, Lee YH, Koo BH. Stress and heart rate variability: a meta-analysis and review of the literature. Psychiatry Investig. 2018; 
  2. Clinical Trials of WHOOP at Wake Forest University
I am a technologist with years of experience with Apple and wearOS products and have a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science. In my day job, I advise fortune 500 companies with their digital transformation strategies and also consult with numerous digital health startups in an advisory capacity. I'm VERY interested in exploring the digital health&fitness-tech evolution and keep a close eye on patents, FDA approvals, strategic partnerships and developments happening in the wearables and digital health sector. When I'm not writing or presenting, I run with my Apple Watch or Fossil Gen 5 LTE and keep a close eye on my HRV and other recovery metrics.


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