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Quality of Life During Orthopaedic Training and Academic Practice: Part 1: Orthopaedic Surgery Residents and Faculty

Sargent, M. Catherine MD; Sotile, Wayne PhD; Sotile, Mary O. MA; Rubash, Harry MD; Barrack, Robert L. MD

Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery - American Volume: 01 October 2009 - Volume 91 - Issue 10 - p 2395–2405
doi: 10.2106/JBJS.H.00665
Scientific Articles
Supplementary Content

Background: A pilot study of two academic training programs revealed concerning levels of resident burnout and psychological dysfunction. The purpose of the present study was to determine the quality of life of orthopaedic residents and faculty on a national scale and to identify risk factors for decompensation.

Methods: Three hundred and eighty-four orthopaedic residents and 264 full-time orthopaedic faculty members completed a voluntary, anonymous survey consisting of three validated instruments (the Maslach Burnout Inventory, the General Health Questionnaire-12, and the Revised Dyadic Adjustment Scale) and question sets assessing demographic information, relationship issues, stress reactions/management, and work/life balance.

Results: High levels of burnout were seen in 56% of the residents and 28% of the faculty members. Burnout risk was greatest among second-postgraduate-year residents and residents in training programs with six or more residents per postgraduate year. Sixteen percent of residents and 19% of faculty members reported symptoms of psychological distress. Sleep deprivation was common among the residents and correlated positively with every distress measure. Faculty reported greater levels of stress but greater satisfaction with work and work/life balance. A number of factors, such as making time for hobbies and limiting alcohol use, correlated with decreased dysfunction for both residents and faculty.

Conclusions: Despite reporting high levels of job satisfaction, orthopaedic residents and faculty are at risk for burnout and distress. Identification of protective factors and risk factors may provide guidance to improve the quality of life of academic orthopaedic surgeons in training and beyond.

1Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Johns Hopkins University, 601 North Caroline Street, Room 5255, Baltimore, MD 21287

2Sotile Psychological Associates, 1396 Old Mill Circle, Winston-Salem, NC 27103

3Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Massachusetts General Hospital, 55 Fruit Street, WHT 601, Yawkey Building, Suite 3700, Boston, MA 02114

4Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Washington University School of Medicine, Barnes-Jewish Hospital, One Barnes-Jewish Hospital Plaza, 11300 West Pavilion, St. Louis, MO 63110. E-mail address:

Copyright 2009 by The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, Incorporated
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