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U.S. Surgical Residents Report Racial/Ethnic Discrimination Common

Last Updated: April 28, 2020.

Racial/ethnic discrimination is experienced by a large proportion of nonwhite residents in general surgery training, according to a research letter published online April 15 in JAMA Surgery.

TUESDAY, April 28, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- Racial/ethnic discrimination is experienced by a large proportion of nonwhite residents in general surgery training, according to a research letter published online April 15 in JAMA Surgery.

Tarik K. Yuce, M.D., from Northwestern University in Chicago, and colleagues sought to determine the national prevalence and sources of discrimination based on race/ethnicity in U.S. general surgery programs, identify factors associated with discrimination, and assess its association with resident wellness through a survey completed by 6,956 resident physicians following the 2019 American Board of Surgery In-Training Examination.

The researchers found that 23.7 percent of respondents who answered the relevant questions (5,679) reported experiencing discrimination based on race/ethnicity or religion. Discrimination rates were higher in black (70.7 percent), Asian (45.9 percent), Hispanic (25.3 percent), and other nonwhite respondents (33.3 percent) compared with white respondents (12.6 percent). The most commonly reported discriminatory behaviors were being mistaken for another person of the same race or as a nonphysician, as well as experiencing different standards of evaluation. One-fourth of black residents experienced slurs/hurtful comments, most commonly from patients/families. Discrimination was more likely to be reported by residents who are female (odds ratio [OR], 1.48), nonwhite (black: OR, 20.91; Hispanic: OR, 2.62; Asian: OR, 6.29), and more senior (program year 2 or 3: OR, 1.30; program year 4 or 5: OR, 1.57; versus program year 1). It was also more likely to be reported after residents experienced violations of the 80-hour duty limit (more than five times in six months versus never: OR, 2.26).

"These findings suggest that concerted efforts are needed to improve diversity, equity, and inclusion within surgical training programs," the authors write.

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