A pilot study of two academic training programs revealed concerning levels of resident burnout and psychological dysfunction. The purpose of the present study was to determine the quality of life of orthopaedic residents and faculty on a national scale and to identify risk factors for decompensation.
Three hundred and eighty-four orthopaedic residents and 264 full-time orthopaedic faculty members completed a voluntary, anonymous survey consisting of three validated instruments (the Maslach Burnout Inventory, the General Health Questionnaire-12, and the Revised Dyadic Adjustment Scale) and question sets assessing demographic information, relationship issues, stress reactions/management, and work/life balance.
High levels of burnout were seen in 56% of the residents and 28% of the faculty members. Burnout risk was greatest among second-postgraduate-year residents and residents in training programs with six or more residents per postgraduate year. Sixteen percent of residents and 19% of faculty members reported symptoms of psychological distress. Sleep deprivation was common among the residents and correlated positively with every distress measure. Faculty reported greater levels of stress but greater satisfaction with work and work/life balance. A number of factors, such as making time for hobbies and limiting alcohol use, correlated with decreased dysfunction for both residents and faculty.
Despite reporting high levels of job satisfaction, orthopaedic residents and faculty are at risk for burnout and distress. Identification of protective factors and risk factors may provide guidance to improve the quality of life of academic orthopaedic surgeons in training and beyond.