Featured Article| Volume 223, ISSUE 4, P609-614, April 2022

Beyond burnout: Understanding the well-being gender gap in general surgery by examining professional fulfillment and control over schedule

Published:September 02, 2021DOI:


      • Burnout rate is higher among female general surgeons compared to male surgeons.
      • Female surgeons feel having significantly less COS.
      • Female surgeons have significantly lower levels of PF.
      • Sleep-related impairment is also a strong predictor of burnout.
      • The relationship between gender and burnout is fully mediated by PF and COS.



      Prior research has revealed a gender gap in physician burnout. Our study attempts to elucidate the cause for the differences in burnout among male and female general surgeons (GS).


      The study is based on a sample of 431 GS from 11 healthcare organizations participating in the Physician Wellness Academic Consortium.


      Female (N = 154) and male (N = 277) GS significantly differed in burnout (46% vs 33%, p = 0.008) and professional fulfillment (PF), (37% vs 56% p < 0.001). Male surgeons reported a higher sense of control over their schedule (COS) (5.0 vs 4.2, p = 0.001). Mediation analyses showed that the gender effect on burnout was fully mediated through PF and COS.


      This study demonstrates that the observed differences in burnout between female and male GS are due to their differences in PF and COS. Longitudinal research is needed to determine whether interventions targeting PF and COS may mitigate burnout among female GS.


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