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Am Surg. 2019 Feb 1;85(2):127-135.

The Crossroads of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder and Physician Burnout: A National Review of United States Trauma and Nontrauma Surgeons.


Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) among trauma surgeons is three times that of the general population, and physician burnout (PBO) among surgeons is rising. Given that PTSD and PBO are both stress-based syndromes, we aim to identify the prevalence and risk factors for PTSD among trauma and nontrauma surgeons, and determine if a relationship exists. A cross-sectional survey of surgeons was conducted between September 2016 and May 2017. Respondents were screened for PTSD and PBO. Traumatic stressors were identified, and 20 potential risk factors were assessed. The respondents (n = 1026) were grouped into trauma (n = 350) and nontrauma (n = 676). Between the cohorts, there was no significant difference in prevalence of screening positive for PTSD (17% vs 15%) or PBO (30% vs 25%). A relationship was found between PTSD and PBO (P < 0.001). The most common traumatic stressor was overwhelming work responsibilities. Potential risk factors for PTSD differed, but overlapping risk factors included hospital culture, hospital support, and salary (P < 0.05). Our findings of an association between PTSD and PBO is concerning. Interventions to reduce rates of PTSD should target changing the existing culture of surgery, improving hospital support, and ensuring equitable pay.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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