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Supporting surgeon wellbeing

Surgeon wellbeing: our research

The team are carrying out research in a number of different areas.  Find out more below.

A national survey of the impact of adverse events on surgeons

Much of what is known already about the impact of adverse events on surgeons comes from studies outside of the UK, or groups surgeons together with other doctors / healthcare professionals (and we think there are some unique or nearly unique aspects of surgical practice), or conflates errors and complications (which are different and are seen as different by surgeons themselves).

Between 2016 and 2019 we conducted a UK national survey of the impact of adverse events on surgeons. Our data include details of surgeons’ experience of adverse events, they distinguish between errors and complications, and they include multiple validated psychological measures. Analysis of this data set in underway and we anticipate publication in 2020.

An RCT of resilience training intervention in surgical trainees

We are keen to move beyond describing the extent and nature of the impact of adverse events on surgeons in the UK and to develop evidence based interventions. We have nearly completed the intervention phase of a multi-site Randomised Control Trial (RCT) of a resilience training intervention with surgeons in training in the UK. Based on ACT (Acceptance and Commitment Therapy) our intervention seeks to enhance resilience and other psychological health outcomes. We anticipate analysis of our RCT data early in 2020.

SAEFAR – Surgical Adverse Events First Aid Response

Surgeons have told us that the immediate aftermath of a significant adverse event is often characterised by confusion and uncertainty around how a surgeon should be supported, how and when they should return to work, the roles and responsibilities of the employing organisation, the Medical Director, the BMA and the medical defence organisations.

Working in collaboration with the Royal College of Surgeons of England, we brought together a working party to develop national guidance to help surgeons and their employers face the immediate aftermath of an adverse event. Under the working title of SAEFAR, our consultative process is complete, and our draft guidance is under joint review by the BU and RCS teams with a view to a national launch of SAEFAR in 2020.

Future research

We have a number of projects planned including a further national study of Urologists exploring the reasons surrounding the timing of a surgeon’s decision to retire and the factors that influence that decision.