C2A - 06: WORK-LIFE IMBALANCE: EATING HABITS AND LIFESTYLE BARRIERS IN GENERAL SURGERY RESIDENTS
Jennifer Yu, MD1, Katherine N Balantekin, PhD, RD2, Arjav Shah, BS1, Mary E Klingensmith, MD1, Arghavan Salles, MD, PhD1; 1Washington University School of Medicine, 2University at Buffalo
Background: Surgical residency training occurs in an environment of acute physical and psychological stress, with high rates of burnout. Anecdotal experiences of poor eating habits and detrimental lifestyle changes due to the rigor of surgical residency are common, but little research exists on physician self-care or the effect of residency training in this context. We sought to assess eating habits, barriers to ideal eating behaviors, and lifestyle routines of surgical residents.
Methods: A brief survey was developed by a multidisciplinary focus group with representatives from general surgery and nutrition sciences. Survey items included questions regarding health status and eating, exercise, and sleep habits. The survey was administered to general surgery residents within a single university-based training program, and data were analyzed using descriptive statistics.
Results: Thirty-three clinical residents were surveyed, with 11 (33%) first-year residents. Only 8 residents (24%) considered their overall health as very good or excellent, and 28 (85%) rated their current physical fitness as slightly worse to much worse compared to prior to residency. The majority of residents surveyed (27, 82%) would change the way they eat at work, with 26 (79%) wishing they could eat more nutritious foods. Lack of time to consume food (16, 48%) or to prepare food (15, 45%) were the two most highly ranked barriers to residents eating according to their preferences. In an average workweek, residents rarely ate three meals a day, with 22 residents (67%) eating lunch 3 or fewer times per week. Thirteen residents (39%) reported complete lack of exercise (i.e. 30 minutes of moderate intensity activity) in an average week, and nearly half (15, 45%) scored ≥15 on the Epworth Sleepiness Scale, indicating likely excessive daytime sleepiness.
Conclusions: Work responsibilities and clinical duties during training diminish the ability of residents to maintain adequate self-care. Poor self-perceptions of health and failure to meet basic physical requirements such as exercise and sleep indicate a critical need to evaluate mechanisms to optimize resident well-being. Interventions should focus on residents’ access to healthy foods in addition to efforts to help residents achieve adequate sleep and exercise, as these may mitigate physician burnout.