Social Belonging as a Predictor of Surgical Resident Well-being and Attrition

Arghavan Salles, Robert C. Wright, Laurel Milam, Roheena Z. Panni, Cara A. Liebert, James N. Lau, Dana T. Lin, Claudia M. Mueller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations

Abstract

Objective: In light of the predicted shortage of surgeons, attrition from surgical residency is a significant problem. Prior data have shown that those who are happier are more productive, and those who are less well have higher rates of absenteeism. This study sought to identify the role of social belonging and its relationship to well-being and risk of attrition. Design: Surgical residents were invited to participate in an online survey containing measures of social belonging (a 10-item scale adapted from previous studies), well-being (the Dupuy Psychological General Well-Being Scale, Beck Depression Inventory Short Form, and Maslach Burnout Inventory), and risk of attrition (indicated by frequency of thoughts of leaving the program). Setting: We surveyed residents at 2 tertiary care centers, Stanford Health Care (2010, 2011, and 2015) and Washington University in St. Louis (2017). Participants: Categorical general surgery residents, designated preliminary residents going into 7 surgical subspecialties, and nondesignated preliminary residents were included. Results: One hundred sixty-nine residents responded to the survey for a response rate of 66%. Belonging was positively correlated with general psychological well-being (r = 0.56, p < 0.0001) and negatively correlated with depression (r = −0.57, p < 0.0001), emotional exhaustion (r = −0.58, p < 0.0001), and depersonalization (r = −0.36, p < 0.0001). Further, belonging was negatively correlated with frequency of thoughts of leaving residency (r = −0.45, p < 0.0001). In regression analysis controlling for demographic variables, belonging was a significant positive predictor of psychological well-being (B = 0.95, t = 8.18, p < 0.0001) and a significant negative predictor of thoughts of leaving (B = −1.04, t = −5.44, p < 0.0001). Conclusions: Social belonging has a significant positive correlation with well-being and negative correlation with thoughts of leaving surgical training. Lack of social belonging appears to be a significant predictor of risk of attrition in surgical residency. Efforts to enhance social belonging may protect against resident attrition.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)370-377
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Surgical Education
Volume76
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 1 2019

Keywords

  • Interpersonal and Communication Skills
  • attrition
  • burnout
  • residency
  • social belonging
  • well-being

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