The Relationship Between Self-Efficacy and Well-Being Among Surgical Residents

Laurel A. Milam, Geoffrey L. Cohen, Claudia Mueller, Arghavan Salles

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


Objective: Residency is a challenging time in the lives of physicians. In this study, we examined the relationship between general self-efficacy, defined as the belief in one's own capabilities in a variety of situations, and burnout and psychological well-being in a sample of surgical residents. Design: In the context of a larger study, a cross-sectional survey was administered to residents. The survey included measures of general self-efficacy, the emotional exhaustion and personal accomplishment domains of burnout, and general psychological well-being. We examined correlations between self-efficacy and these well-being outcomes and used multivariable linear regression models that controlled for age, gender, postgraduate year, ethnicity, and the interaction between gender and self-efficacy. Setting: We surveyed residents at Stanford Health Care, a tertiary care center, between the fall of 2010 and the spring of 2013. Participants: One hundred and seventy nine residents from 9 surgical subspecialties responded to the survey for a response rate of 76%. Results: Residents reported high levels of self-efficacy, and over a third reported high emotional exhaustion. Eighty-nine percent of residents had average or high personal accomplishment. In adjusted regression analyses, general self-efficacy was negatively predictive of emotional exhaustion (B = −0.43, p = 0.0127) and positively predictive of personal accomplishment (B = 0.33, p = 0.0185) and general psychological well-being (B = 0.34, p = 0.0010). There was no interaction between gender and general self-efficacy in regression analyses (ps ≥ 0.6776). Conclusions: Among other factors, self-efficacy appears to be significantly predictive of resident well-being. High self-efficacy suggests that residents feel prepared and capable. Interventions to improve residents’ general self-efficacy should be explored as a possible mechanism to improve well-being.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)321-328
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Surgical Education
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 1 2019


  • Interpersonal and Communication Skills
  • burnout
  • medical education
  • residency
  • self-efficacy
  • well-being


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