Exploring the Relationship between Stereotype Perception and Residents' Well-Being

Arghavan Salles, Claudia M. Mueller, Geoffrey L. Cohen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


Background Medicine has historically been a male-dominated field, and there remains a stereotype that men are better physicians than women. For female residents, and in particular female surgical residents, chronically contending with this stereotype can exact a toll on their psychological health. The objective of this study was to determine the relationship between women surgeons' psychological health and their perception of other people's endorsement of the stereotype (stereotype perception). Study Design This is a correlational study based on survey data collected from 14 residency programs at one medical center from September 2010 to March 2011. The participants were 384 residents (representing an 80% response rate). The main survey measures were the Dupuy Psychological General Well-Being Scale and the Maslach Burnout Inventory. Results Among female surgical residents, we found that those with higher degrees of stereotype perception had poorer psychological health than those with lower degrees of stereotype perception (β = -0.44, p = 0.002). For men, there was no relationship between stereotype perception and psychological health (β = 0.015; p = 0.92). Among nonsurgeons, there was no relationship between stereotype perception and psychological health for either women or men (β = -0.016; p = 0.78; β = -0.0050; p = 0.97, respectively). Conclusions The data suggest that women in surgical training, but not men, can face a stressor - stereotype perception - that is negatively associated with their psychological health. This same relationship does not seem to exist for women in nonsurgical training programs. Efforts should be made to further understand this relationship and investigate possible interventions to level the playing field for male and female surgical trainees.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)52-58
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of the American College of Surgeons
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2016


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