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Being a surgeon--the myth and the reality: a meta-synthesis of surgeons' perspectives about factors affecting their practice and well-being


Orri, Massimiliano; Farges, Olivier; Clavien, Pierre-Alain; Barkun, Jeffrey; Revah-Lévy, Anne (2014). Being a surgeon--the myth and the reality: a meta-synthesis of surgeons' perspectives about factors affecting their practice and well-being. Annals of Surgery, 260(5):721-728; discussion 728.

Abstract

OBJECTIVES Synthesize the findings from individual qualitative studies about surgeons' account of their practice. BACKGROUND Social and contextual factors of practice influence doctors' well-being and therapeutic relationships. Little is known about surgery, but it is generally assumed that surgeons are not affected by them. METHODS We searched international publications (2000-2012) to identify relevant qualitative research exploring how surgeons talk about their practice. Meta-ethnography (a systematic analysis of qualitative literature that compensates for the potential lack of generalizability of the primary studies and provides new insight by their conjoint interpretation) was used to identify key themes and synthesize them. RESULTS We identified 51 articles (>1000 surgeons) from different specialties and countries. Two main themes emerged. (i) The patient-surgeon relationship, described surgeons' characterizations of their relationships with patients. We identified factors influencing surgical decision making, communication, and personal involvement in the process of care; these were surgeon-related, patient-related, and contextual. (ii) Group relations and culture described perceived issues related to surgical culture (image and education, teamwork, rules, and guidelines); it highlighted the influence of a social dimension on surgical practice. In both themes, we uncovered an emotional dimension of surgeons' practice. CONCLUSIONS Surgeons' emphasis on technical aspects, individuality, and performance seems to impede a modern patient-centered approach to care and to act as a barrier to well-being. Our findings suggest that taking into account the relational and emotional dimensions of surgical practice (both with patients and within the institution) might improve surgical innovation, surgeons' well-being, and the attractiveness of this specialty.

Abstract

OBJECTIVES Synthesize the findings from individual qualitative studies about surgeons' account of their practice. BACKGROUND Social and contextual factors of practice influence doctors' well-being and therapeutic relationships. Little is known about surgery, but it is generally assumed that surgeons are not affected by them. METHODS We searched international publications (2000-2012) to identify relevant qualitative research exploring how surgeons talk about their practice. Meta-ethnography (a systematic analysis of qualitative literature that compensates for the potential lack of generalizability of the primary studies and provides new insight by their conjoint interpretation) was used to identify key themes and synthesize them. RESULTS We identified 51 articles (>1000 surgeons) from different specialties and countries. Two main themes emerged. (i) The patient-surgeon relationship, described surgeons' characterizations of their relationships with patients. We identified factors influencing surgical decision making, communication, and personal involvement in the process of care; these were surgeon-related, patient-related, and contextual. (ii) Group relations and culture described perceived issues related to surgical culture (image and education, teamwork, rules, and guidelines); it highlighted the influence of a social dimension on surgical practice. In both themes, we uncovered an emotional dimension of surgeons' practice. CONCLUSIONS Surgeons' emphasis on technical aspects, individuality, and performance seems to impede a modern patient-centered approach to care and to act as a barrier to well-being. Our findings suggest that taking into account the relational and emotional dimensions of surgical practice (both with patients and within the institution) might improve surgical innovation, surgeons' well-being, and the attractiveness of this specialty.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:04 Faculty of Medicine > University Hospital Zurich > Clinic for Visceral and Transplantation Surgery
Dewey Decimal Classification:610 Medicine & health
Date:November 2014
Deposited On:23 Jan 2015 07:11
Last Modified:14 Feb 2018 22:27
Publisher:Lippincott Williams & Wilkins
ISSN:0003-4932
OA Status:Green
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1097/SLA.0000000000000962
PubMed ID:25379843

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