Burnout in Surgical Trainees: a Narrative Review of Trends, Contributors, Consequences and Possible Interventions

Judith Johnson*, Tmam Abdulaziz Al-Ghunaim, Chandra Shekhar Biyani, Anthony Montgomery, Roland Morley, Daryl B. O’Connor

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Surgical disciplines are popular and training places are competitive to obtain, but trainees report higher levels of burnout than either their non-surgical peers or attending or consultant surgeons. In this review, we critically summarise evidence on trends and changes in burnout over the past decade, contributors to surgical trainee burnout, the personal and professional consequences of burnout and consider the evidence for interventions. There is no evidence for a linear increase in burnout levels in surgeons over the past decade but the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has yet to be established and is likely to be significant. Working long hours and experiencing stressful interpersonal interactions at work are associated with higher burnout in trainees but feeling more supported by training programmes and receiving workplace supervision are associated with reduced burnout. Burnout is associated with poorer overall mental and physical well-being in surgical trainees and has also been linked with the delivery of less safe patient care in this group. Useful interventions could include mentorship and improving work conditions, but there is a need for more and higher quality studies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)S35-S44
Number of pages10
JournalIndian Journal of Surgery
Issue numberS1
Early online date29 Jul 2021
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2022
Externally publishedYes


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