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Can J Surg. 2014 Apr;57(2):E19-24.

A simple strategy to reduce stereotype threat for orthopedic residents.

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The University of California, Irvine, Health & Disease Research Program, Orange, Calif.
The Department of Surgery, Division of Orthopaedic Surgery, University of Toronto, Departments of Public Health Sciences and Health Policy, Management and Evaluation, University of Toronto, Department of Surgery, The Hospital for Sick Children, and Child Health Evaluative Sciences, The Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto, Ont.


in English, French


Stereotype threat, defined as the predicament felt by people in either positive or negative learning experiences where they could conform to negative stereotypes associated with their own group membership, can interfere with learning. The purpose of this study was to determine if a simple orientation session could reduce stereotype threat for orthopedic residents.


The intervention group received an orientation on 2 occasions focusing on their possible responses to perceived poor performance in teaching rounds and the operating room (OR). Participants completed a survey with 7 questions typical for stereotype threat evaluating responses to their experiences. The questions had 7 response options with a maximum total score of 49, where higher scores indicated greater degree of experiences typical of stereotype threat.


Of the 84 eligible residents, 49 participated: 22 in the nonintervention and 27 in the intervention group. The overall scores were 29 and 29.4, and 26.2 and 25.8 in the nonintervention and intervention groups for their survey responses to perceived poor performance in teaching rounds (p = 0.85) and the OR (p = 0.84), respectively. Overall, responses typical of stereotype threat were greater for perceived poor performance at teaching rounds than in the OR (p = 0.001).


Residents experience low self-esteem following perceived poor performance, particularly at rounds. A simple orientation designed to reduce stereotype threat was unsuccessful in reducing this threat overall. Future research will need to consider longer-term intervention as possible strategies to reduce perceived poor performance at teaching rounds and in the OR.

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