The Current State of Surgical Ergonomics Education in U.S. Surgical Training: A Survey Study

Sherise Epstein, Bao N. Tran, Avery C. Capone, Qing Z. Ruan, Eugene Y. Fukudome, Joseph A. Ricci, Marcia A. Testa, Jack T. Dennerlein, Bernard T. Lee, Dhruv Singhal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVE: The aim of this study was to characterize the current state of surgical ergonomics education in the United States. BACKGROUND: The burden of work-related musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) in surgeons is high and no overarching strategy for redress exists. Twelve distinct specialties describe an unmet need for surgical ergonomics education (SEE). This study aimed to define the current state of SEE in U.S. surgical training programs. METHODS: We performed a descriptive analysis of a 20-item questionnaire of ACGME-certified program directors from 14 surgical and interventional medical specialties. Formal SEE was defined as any organized education module that reviewed the occupation-specific burden of common work-related MSDs and described a framework for prevention via occupation-specific applied ergonomics. Program directors were queried regarding SEE provision, characteristics, and perceived trainee attitude toward the education. RESULTS: Questionnaires were received from 130 of 441 (29.5%) program directors. Two (1.5%) provided formal SEE and 33 (25.4%) provided informal SEE, which consisted of unstructured intraoperative directives and isolated lectures. Two programs previously provided SEE but discontinued the effort due to lack of an evidence-based framework and instructors. Trainees appeared to think that learning surgical ergonomics skills was a worthwhile time investment in 100% and 76.7% of current formal and informal SEE, respectively. CONCLUSION: SEE is rarely provided in any capacity (25.4%), let alone in a consistent or evaluable fashion (1.5%). Impediments to sustainable SEE include lack of an evidence-based framework for education and instructors. An evidence-based, reproducible, and accreditation council-compliant SEE module would be a valuable resource for the surgical and interventional medical communities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)778-784
Number of pages7
JournalAnnals of surgery
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2019
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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