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J Surg Educ. 2017 Nov - Dec;74(6):e111-e118. doi: 10.1016/j.jsurg.2017.06.014. Epub 2017 Jun 29.

The Effect of Gender on Resident Autonomy in the Operating room.

Author information

1
Department of Surgery, Northwestern University, Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago, Illinois. Electronic address: smeyerso@nm.org.
2
Department of Surgery, Northwestern University, Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago, Illinois.
3
Department of Surgery, University of Kentuky, Lexington, Kentucky.
4
Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery, Stanford University, Palo Alto, California.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

Discrimination against women training in medicine and surgery has been subjectively described for decades. This study objectively documents gender differences in the degree of autonomy given to thoracic surgery trainees in the operating room.

DESIGN:

Thoracic surgery residents and faculty underwent frame of reference training on the use of the 4-point Zwisch scale to measure operative autonomy. Residents and faculty then submitted evaluations of their perception of autonomy granted for individual operations as well as operative difficulty on a real-time basis using the "Zwisch Me!!" mobile application. Differences in autonomy given to male and female residents were elucidated using chi-square analysis and ordered logistic regression.

SETTING:

Seven academic medical centers with thoracic surgery training programs.

PARTICIPANTS:

Volunteer thoracic surgery residents in both integrated and traditional training pathways and their affiliated cardiothoracic faculty.

RESULTS:

Residents (n = 33, female 18%) submitted a total of 596 evaluations to faculty (n = 48, female 12%). Faculty gave less autonomy to female residents with only 56 of 184 evaluations (30.3%) showing meaningful autonomy (passive help or supervision only) compared to 107 of 292 evaluations (36.7%) at those levels for male residents (p = 0.02). Resident perceptions of autonomy showed even more pronounced differences with female residents receiving only 38 of 197 evaluations (19.3%) with meaningful autonomy compared to 133 of 399 evaluations (33.3%) for male residents (p < 0.001). Potential influencing factors explored included attending gender and specialty, case type and difficulty, and resident level of training. In multivariate analysis, only case difficultly, resident gender, and level of training were significantly related to autonomy granted to residents.

CONCLUSIONS:

Evaluations of operative autonomy reveal a significant bias against female residents. Faculty education is needed to encourage allowing female residents more operative autonomy.

KEYWORDS:

Patient Care; autonomy; bias; gender disparity; surgical education

Comment in

PMID:
28669788
DOI:
10.1016/j.jsurg.2017.06.014
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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