Firgun Practice Helped Create Better Oncology Care Team Environment

By Leah Lawrence - Last Updated: December 28, 2022

A trial testing the impact of firgun had a profound effect on many parameters that contributed to health care provider burnout, a new study showed.

Firgun, an informal modern Hebrew term of Yiddish origin, is a form of meaningful recognition. The method involves the use of “genuine, unselfish delight or pride in the accomplishment of another person.” Researchers implemented the use of firgun on a pediatric hematopoietic cell transplant unit to evaluate its effect on staff and work environment.

In this single-center study, weekly emails reminded participants to practice and log firgun. The researchers then evaluated electronically submitted surveys related to burnout at baseline and 8 weeks. Forty-two members of the team enrolled and 25 completed pre- and post-surveys. Eight participants were interviewed at project completion.

“The project was facilitated by ease of implementation, low cost, and minimally interventional nature,” the researchers wrote. “Although the investment of time, effort, and resources are minimal, the impact of increased mutual support among the staff with the use of altruistic acknowledgment can be substantial in promoting a healthier work environment.”

Participants reported that they were significantly less nervous and stressed and had less difficulty coping. They also noted increased acknowledgment of others’ work.

The researchers also noted improved scores on an emotional exhaustion subscale, as well as improvements in fatigue, frustration, and feeling “at the end of [their] rope.”

During the interviews, participants suggested that the project had improved teamwork and the overall work environment. All interviewed participants described the project as “an overall positive experience” and noted that the use of firgun should be continued and expanded.

The researchers concluded, “We encourage oncology care team providers to support one another with frequent use of unsolicited altruistic acknowledgment and feedback, to create an environment where everyone feels the value of their contribution and sacrifice to the ultimate goal of improving the lives of patients and families, as well as continue to explore firgun as a strategy for building and sustaining effective cancer care teams.”


Decreasing burnout and improving work environment: the impact of firgun on a pediatric hematopoietic cell transplant team.