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      The Relationship Between Surgeon Gender and Stress During the Covid-19 Pandemic


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          To investigate the relationship between surgeon gender and stress during the Covid-19 pandemic.


          Although female surgeons face difficulties integrating work and home in the best of times, the Covid-19 pandemic has presented new challenges. The implications for the female surgical workforce are unknown.


          This cross-sectional, multi-center telephone survey study of surgeons was conducted across 5 academic institutions (May 15–June 5, 2020). The primary outcome was maximum stress level, measured using the validated Stress Numerical Rating Scale-11. Mixed-effects generalized linear models were used to estimate the relationship between surgeon stress level and gender.


          Of 529 surgeons contacted, 337 surgeons responded and 335 surveys were complete (response rate 63.7%). The majority of female respondents were housestaff (58.1%), and the majority of male respondents were faculty (56.8%) ( P = 0.008). A greater proportion of male surgeons (50.3%) than female surgeons (36.8%) had children ≤18 years ( P = 0.015). The mean maximum stress level for female surgeons was 7.51 (SD 1.49) and for male surgeons was 6.71 (SD 2.15) ( P < 0.001). After adjusting for the presence of children and training status, female gender was associated with a significantly higher maximum stress level ( P < 0.001).


          Our findings that women experienced more stress than men during the Covid-19 pandemic, regardless of parental status, suggest that there is more to the gendered differences in the stress experience of the pandemic than the added demands of childcare. Deliberate interventions are needed to promote and support the female surgical workforce during the pandemic.

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          Most cited references28

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            Critical Supply Shortages — The Need for Ventilators and Personal Protective Equipment during the Covid-19 Pandemic

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              An overview of systematic reviews on the public health consequences of social isolation and loneliness

              Social isolation and loneliness have been associated with ill health and are common in the developed world. A clear understanding of their implications for morbidity and mortality is needed to gauge the extent of the associated public health challenge and the potential benefit of intervention.

                Author and article information

                Ann Surg
                Ann Surg
                Annals of Surgery
                Lippincott Williams & Wilkins (Hagerstown, MD )
                April 2021
                22 January 2021
                : 273
                : 4
                : 625-629
                []Department of Surgery, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
                []Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
                []Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts
                [§ ]University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan
                []Weill Cornell Medical College, New York, New York
                [|| ]University of California, San Francisco, California.
                Author notes

                The authors declare no conflict of interests.

                Supplemental digital content is available for this article.

                ANNSURG-D-20-03177 00003
                Copyright © 2021 Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc. All rights reserved.

                This article is made available via the PMC Open Access Subset for unrestricted re-use and analyses in any form or by any means with acknowledgement of the original source. These permissions are granted for the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic or until permissions are revoked in writing. Upon expiration of these permissions, PMC is granted a perpetual license to make this article available via PMC and Europe PMC, consistent with existing copyright protections.


                covid-19,disaster,female surgeon,pandemic,stress,surgeon gender,vulnerable population,workforce


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