US surgical residents have high stress, burnout levels

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Surgical resident stress levels improve during lab years.
Surgical resident stress levels improve during lab years.

HealthDay News — Surgical residents  have high levels of burnout, which is associated with high stress, depression, and suicidal ideation, according to a study published online in the Journal of the American College of Surgeons.

Carter C. Lebares, MD, from the University of California, San Francisco, and colleagues surveyed 566 surgical residents to examine burnout and the psychological characteristics that may contribute to burnout vulnerability and resilience. The authors assessed and analyzed the prevalence of stress, anxiety, depression, resilience, mindfulness, and alcohol use.

The researchers found that the prevalence of burnout was 69%, which was driven equally by exhaustion and depersonalization. Across training levels, perceived stress and distress symptoms were notably high, but they improved during lab years. There was a correlation for higher burnout with high stress, depression, and suicidal ideation (odds ratios, 7.8, 4.8, and 5.7, respectively). Dispositional mindfulness was correlated with lower risk of burnout, stress, anxiety, suicidal ideation, and depression (odds ratios, 0.24, 0.15, 0.21, 0.25, and 0.26, respectively).

"High levels of burnout, severe stress, and distress symptoms are experienced throughout general surgery training, with some improvement during lab years," the authors write. "Higher dispositional mindfulness was associated with lower risk of burnout, severe stress, and distress symptoms, supporting the potential of mindfulness training to promote resilience during surgery residency."

Reference

  1. Lebares CC, Guvva EK, Ascher NL, et al. Burnout and stress among US surgery residents: psychological distress and resilience. J Am Coll Surg. 2017 October 26. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jamcollsurg.2017.10.010

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