TUESDAY, Oct. 29, 2019 (HealthDay News) — General surgery residents, especially women, often experience mistreatment, according to a study published online Oct. 28 in the New England Journal of Medicine to coincide with the annual meeting of the American College of Surgeons, held from Oct. 27 to 31 in San Francisco.

Yue-Yung Hu, M.D., from the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago, and colleagues conducted a cross-sectional national survey of general surgery residents to assess mistreatment, burnout, and suicidal thoughts in the past year. Data were included for 7,409 residents from 262 surgical residency programs.

The researchers found that 31.9, 16.6, 30.3, and 10.3 percent of residents reported discrimination based on self-identified gender, racial discrimination, verbal or physical abuse (or both), and sexual harassment, respectively. Women had higher rates of all mistreatment measures: 65.1 and 19.9 percent reported gender discrimination and sexual harassment, respectively. Overall, 38.5 and 4.5 percent of residents reported weekly burnout symptoms and having had suicidal thoughts in the past year, respectively. Increased odds of burnout symptoms and suicidal thoughts were seen for residents who reported exposure to discrimination, abuse, or harassment at least a few times per month versus no exposures (odds ratios [ORs], 2.94 [95 percent confidence interval (CI), 2.58 to 3.36] and 3.07 [95 percent CI, 2.25 to 4.19], respectively). Women were more likely to report burnout symptoms than men (OR, 1.33; 95 percent CI, 1.20 to 1.48), although the difference was no longer seen after adjustment for mistreatment (OR, 0.90; 95 percent CI, 0.80 to 1.00).

“Our results provide initial insights on how we may build safer, more equitable, and more effective educational environments for trainees,” the authors write.

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