Physical pain a risk factor for vascular surgery trainee burnout, survey reveals


burnoutA recent survey has indicated that physical pain is “prevalent” among vascular sur­gery trainees and represents a risk fac­tor for burnout. Eric Pillado, MD, MBA, a vascular surgery resident at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago, shared this conclusion during the second SVS-VESS Scien­tific Session at this year’s Vascular Annual Meeting (VAM). 

Pillado detailed that 527 trainees completed a confidential, voluntary survey, administered after the Vascular Surgery In-Training Examination (VSITE), representing an 82.2% response rate. He revealed that 38% reported moderate-to-severe discomfort/pain after a full day of working, among whom 73.6% reported using ergonomic adjustments and 67% over-the-counter medications. Pillado also communicated that more women tended to report moderate-to-severe pain than men (44.3% vs. 34.5%, p<0.01).

After adjusting for gender, training level, race/ethnicity, mistreatment, and lack of operative autonomy—which the authors describe in their abstract as a proxy for loss of meaning in work— moderate-to-severe pain (odds ratio [OR] 2.52, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.48–4.26) and using physiotherapy as pain management (OR 3.06, 95% CI 1.02–9.14) were determined to be risk factors for burnout.

In light of these findings, the presenter suggested in his conclusion that programs “should provide ergonomic education and adjuncts, such as posture awareness and microbreaks during surgery, early and throughout training”.

Pillado presented this work on behalf of senior author Dawn M. Coleman, MD, chief of the division of vascular and endovascular surgery at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, North Carolina, and the Vascular Surgery SECOND trial steering committee.


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