Burnout in Surgical Residents Associated With Depression, Stress, Suicidal Ideation

HealthDay News — Surgical residents have high levels of burnout, which is associated with high stress, depression, and suicidal ideation, according to a study published online in the Journal of the American College of Surgeons.

Carter C. Lebares, MD, from the University of California, San Francisco, and colleagues surveyed 566 surgical residents to examine burnout and the psychological characteristics that may contribute to burnout vulnerability and resilience. The authors assessed and analyzed the prevalence of stress, anxiety, depression, resilience, mindfulness, and alcohol use.

The researchers found that the prevalence of burnout was 69%, which was driven equally by exhaustion and depersonalization. 

Across training levels, perceived stress and distress symptoms were notably high, but they improved during lab years. There was a correlation for higher burnout with high stress, depression, and suicidal ideation (OR, 7.8, 4.8, and 5.7, respectively). Dispositional mindfulness was correlated with lower risk of burnout, stress, anxiety, suicidal ideation, and depression (OR, 0.24, 0.15, 0.21, 0.25, and 0.26, respectively).

“High levels of burnout, severe stress, and distress symptoms are experienced throughout general surgery training, with some improvement during lab years,” the authors write. “Higher dispositional mindfulness was associated with lower risk of burnout, severe stress, and distress symptoms, supporting the potential of mindfulness training to promote resilience during surgery residency.”

Related Articles


Lebares CC, Guvva EV, Ascher NL, O’Sullivan PS, Harris HW, Epel ES. Burnout and stress among US surgery residents: psychological distress and resilience [publisjed online October 26, 2017]. J Am Coll Surg. doi:10.1016/j.jamcollsurg.2017.10.010