Ergonomics Workshop Improves Musculoskeletal Symptoms in General Surgery Residents

Emily Cerier, Andrew Hu, Annie Goldring, Monica Rho, Swati A. Kulkarni*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Introduction: Poor operative ergonomics can lead to muscle fatigue and injury. However, formal ergonomics education is uncommon in surgical residencies. Our study examines the prevalence of musculoskeletal (MSK) symptoms, baseline ergonomics knowledge, and the impact of an ergonomics workshop in general surgery residents. Methods: An anonymous voluntary presurvey and postsurvey was distributed to all general surgery residents at a single academic residency, assessing resident characteristics, MSK symptoms, and ergonomic knowledge before and after an ergonomics workshop. The workshop consisted of a lecture and a personalized posture coaching session with a physiatrist. Results: The presurvey received 33/35 (94%) responses. Of respondents, 100% reported some degree of MSK pain. Prevalence of muscle stiffness and fatigue decreased with increasing height. Females reported higher frequencies of MSK pain (P = 0.01) and more muscle fatigue than males (100% versus 73%, P = 0.03). All residents reported little to no ergonomics knowledge with 68% reporting that ergonomics was rarely discussed in the operating room. The postsurvey received 26/35 (74%) responses. Of respondents, 100% reported the workshop was an effective method of ergonomics education. MSK symptom severity improved in 82% of residents. Reports that ergonomics was rarely discussed in the operating room significantly decreased to 22.8% of residents (P < 0.01). Conclusions: Surgical resident ergonomics knowledge is poor and MSK symptoms are common. Resident characteristics are associated with different MSK symptoms. Didactic teaching and personalized posture coaching improve ergonomics knowledge and reduce MSK symptom severity. Surgical residencies should consider implementing similar interventions to improve resident wellbeing.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)567-574
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Surgical Research
StatePublished - Dec 2022


  • Ergonomics
  • General surgical resident
  • Improvement
  • Knowledge
  • Musculoskeletal symptoms

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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