A National Mixed-Methods Evaluation of General Surgery Residency Program Responsiveness and the Association with Resident Wellness

Rachel H. Joung, Daniela Amortegui, Casey M. Silver, Natalia I. Mackiewicz, Joshua S. Eng, Kari M. Rosenkranz, Julie Johnson, Karl Y. Bilimoria, Yue Yung Hu*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Introduction: Resident burnout is highly prevalent in general surgery. Burnout is increasingly recognized as a symptom of an unsupportive workplace. The objectives of this study were to describe resident perceptions of program responsiveness and to identify associated factors. Methods: We used a convergent mixed-methods design. A cross-sectional survey was administered to all U.S. general surgery residents following the 2020 ABSITE, querying resident perceptions of their learning environment (including program responsiveness), burnout, thoughts of attrition and suicide, and career satisfaction. Multivariable logistic regression models adjusting for program/resident characteristics assessed associations of program responsiveness with aspects of the learning environment and resident wellness. 366 interviews and 27 focus groups with residents and faculty were conducted during in-person visits to 15 residency programs. Transcripts were analyzed thematically using inductive and deductive logics until thematic saturation was achieved. Results: Of the 7233 clinically active residents from 323 programs who completed the survey (85.5% response rate), 5256 had data available for all outcomes of interest. 72.1% (n = 3791) reported satisfaction with program responsiveness. These residents were significantly less likely to report 80-hour workweek violations (odds ratio [OR] 0.22, 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.18-0.26), burnout (OR 0.47, 95% CI 0.41-0.53), thoughts of attrition (OR 0.32, 95% CI 0.27-0.38), and suicidality (OR 0.52, 95% CI 0.41-0.65). They were significantly more likely to report satisfaction with career choice, personal life, and work-life balance (all p < 0.001). Factors associated with improved perception of program responsiveness included larger program size (50+ vs. <23 residents; OR 1.48, 95% CI 1.01-2.19), having faculty mentorship (OR 2.64, 95% CI 2.22-3.14), having meaningful input into call and vacation schedules (OR 3.31, 95% CI 2.74-4.00), and feeling comfortable speaking up (OR 4.20, 95% CI 3.47-5.09). We conducted a qualitative analysis to identify the following components of program responsiveness: (1) core values reflecting a shared understanding of the importance of resident voice in shaping the training experience and the program, including mutual trust and respect between residents and faculty, transparency and communication, resident unity, and resident participation in and ownership of program improvement; (2) structural constructs that reflect and support responsiveness; (3) mechanisms for supporting resident agency, including resources and leadership support, faculty advocacy, and resident leadership opportunities. Conclusion: Program responsiveness in surgical residency is associated with improved resident wellness. Programs should develop formal channels to elicit and concretely address resident concerns, provide opportunities for resident representation, and entrust residents with the flexibility and autonomy to make decisions that support their own education and wellness.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)e1-e11
JournalJournal of Surgical Education
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 1 2022


  • learning environment
  • mixed-methods study
  • program responsiveness
  • resident wellness
  • shared values

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Surgery


Dive into the research topics of 'A National Mixed-Methods Evaluation of General Surgery Residency Program Responsiveness and the Association with Resident Wellness'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this