Commensality Groups

Commensality Groups are an evidence-based innovation to increase the sense of connection and collegiality among physicians and build comradery and meaning in work. By providing protected time for facilitated small-group discussion, improvements can be made across various dimensions of physician well-being, including meaning, empowerment, engagement in work and reduction of distress.

Although this model seems simple, randomized trials in physicians have demonstrated that this approach improves professional fulfillment and reduces burnout.


How Commensality Groups Work

Participants identify 6-8 physician colleagues within their Department whom they would like to share a meal with once a month.  The group meetings can occur in a restaurant, coffee shop, or a location on campus or even virtually on a web conference platform. Groups should have a maximum of 8 physicians and are intended to be a consistent group for the six-month interval.  

The first 15-20 minutes of the meetings are allocated to discussion of questions about the virtues and challenges of being a physician.  Group members select a question for discussion from a provided list.  After each member of the group has had the opportunity to share their perspective about the discussion question, the group can spend the rest of time simply enjoying each other’s company. 

See the links below for more information on starting your own Commensality Group program.



West CP, Dyrbye LN, Rabatin JT, Call TG, Davidson JH, Multari A, et al. Intervention to promote physician well-being, job satisfaction, and professionalism: a randomized clinical trial. JAMA Intern Med. 2014 Apr;174(4):527-533.

West CP, Dyrbye LN, Satele D, Shanafelt TD. A randomized controlled trial evaluation the effect of COMPASS (Colleagues Meeting to Promote and Sustain Satisfaction) small group sessions on physician well-being, meaning, and job satisfaction [abstract]. J Gen Intern Med. 2015;30:S89.

Luthar SS, Curlee A, Tye SJ, Engeleman JC, Stonnington CM. Fostering resilience among mothers under stress: “authentic connections group” for medical professionals. Womens Health Issues. 2017 May-Jun:27(3):382-90

Swensen SJ, Shanafelt TD. Strategies to Reduce Burnout: 12 Actions to Create the Ideal Workplace. Mayo Clinic Scientific Press. 202;229-238