Cross-Sectional Survey Results on Mental Health Among Orthopedic Surgery Residents Across North America

Michelle M. Gosselin, Bashar Alolabi, Jonathan F. Dickens, Xinning Li, Addisu Mesfin, Anna N. Miller*, Amanda Spraggs-Hughes

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVE: With recent increasing rates of medical student and physician suicide, there has been a focus on examining depression in medical providers and trainees, particularly surgical residents. However, there is a paucity of data specific to orthopedic surgery. Our goal was to evaluate the mental health status of current trainees across North America in order to determine whether or not there were specific demographic or program characteristics correlated with improved mental health scores. DESIGN: A cross-sectional survey was developed and administered to collect basic demographic information as well as residency program qualities. The Mental Health Inventory 5 (MHI-5) was used to assess depression and anxiety in study participants. We then evaluated the associations between various resident and program characteristics and depression scores with a p value set at <0.05 for significance. SETTING: Orthopedic Surgery residency programs across the United States and Canada. Surveys were distributed to 44 programs and responses were received from 41 of those programs. PARTICIPANTS: An anonymous survey was distributed to Orthopedic Surgery residents across the United States and Canada; participation in the survey was voluntary and free of coercion. We received a total of 279 responses from 41 institutions across North America. RESULTS: The mean MHI-5 score of all respondents was 71.5 (range 8.0-100). Women, PGY2 and PGY3 residents and those working >80 hours per week were found to have significantly lower MHI-5 scores. Greater MHI-5 scores were seen in respondents who felt their program offered them an adequate level of surgical independence, case volume/variety, mentorship, and educational opportunities as well as adequate resources to deal with personal or work-related issues. CONCLUSIONS: This study illustrates the prevalence of low-level depression in United States and Canadian orthopedic surgery residents. Additionally, we identified several characteristics that residency programs may focus on to help prevent burnout and depression in trainees.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1484-1491
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Surgical Education
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1 Nov 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Interpersonal and Communication Skills
  • Practice-Based Learning and Improvement
  • Professionalism
  • depression
  • mental health
  • orthopedic surgery
  • resident education


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